FEATURE: Quality education for children in IDPs camps

FEATURE: Quality education for children in IDPs camps

By Mariam Sanni, Abuja

Since 2009, Boko Haram have abducted more than 2000 women and girls. Over 27 million children are estimated to lack access to education, many are being used for suicide bombings, as sex slaves and countless other vices.

For these children, not only is their educational development denied, but they are deprived of other important benefits as well. Going to school is known to provide a degree of stability and normalcy in the traumatized lives of internally displaced children, and can be a critical source of psychosocial support.

It can help to reduce children’s exposure to threats including, sexual exploitation, physical attack, and military recruitment. Classrooms can also be effective forums for conveying life-saving information about other risks including HIV/AIDS.

Moreover, access to education is an important element of internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) integration into the local community where they are displaced, as well as when they return to their home areas or resettle elsewhere.

Greater attention needs to be paid to understanding and overcoming the barriers that IDPs so frequently face in accessing their right to education.

More than 2 million persons have been forced to flee their homes because of the violence in the northeast Nigeria. In most migration crises, it’s children that feel the burn. They are ripped from their communities, removed from school, and often end up orphaned or abandoned.

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Three out of five schools are closed. Sexual and gender based violence incidents go unreported but estimates are that approximately 30% of female internally displaced persons, sometimes girls as young as six years old, have experienced sexual abuse. Organisations are trying to provide psychosocial support for the thousands of traumatised women and children.

Education has a way of mitigating most of the challenges faced in life. The knowledge attained through education could help open a lot of opportunities in career growth and national development.

Overcoming these barriers is essential not only for IDP children’s development. Going to school also provides a degree of stability and normalcy for children whose lives have been traumatised by displacement.

Among the barriers to education that IDP children frequently face is lack of infrastructure. In situations of conflict-induced displacement, schools have often been destroyed or damaged.

In IDP camps and settlements, schools tend to be makeshift and only offer primary education. Many of the schools established—often by IDPs—lack blackboards and even roofs.

Safety of going to school may entail crossing minefields or military roadblocks. In Afghanistan, threats of sexual violence enroute to school kept many IDP girls at home.

Displacement often results in the loss or confiscation of identity documents. Without documentation, IDP children may be unable to enrol in school. Getting replacement documents is often very difficult and dangerous, requiring IDPs to return to their area of origin, even if the area remains unsafe.


IDPs speaks

A teacher,  Mr Emmanuel Kenneth called on the Federal Government to take proactive measure to see the return out of school children back to school.

Kenneth said the measure would change the mindset of the internally displaced children, who had been traumatised by their situation.

Similarly, Vice Chairman of the Abuja IDPs camp,  Alhaji Usman Adamu, while speaking to pressmen lamented on the numerous challenges they are facing, and called for more support from the government.

Miss Rosemary James, a class four pupil, who received awards as the best performing pupil in the IDPs camp, promised to engage herself through thorough reading to make the world proud.

Alima Abubakar, also a pupil at the IDPs camps said she likes to be among the educated people in the country, but it seems this will be impossible due to the financial and environmental reasons.

NGOs speaks

Earlier, a non-governmental organisation, Out of School Children Initiative in Nigeria (OSCIN), during an official handover of school materials and food items to children in IDPs camp in New Kuchingoro, Abuja has appealed to parents in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps to return their children to school to secure their future.

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Mrs Patience Uhunamure, founder of the NGO, said the objective of the initiative was to enroll children that were not in school and to encourage parents to take the education of their wards serious.

She urged the children to take the likes of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as their role model, adding that the children should avoid anything that would limit them from becoming great leaders of the country.

“All of you can become the president of Nigeria in future. The fact that you don’t have parent or you are from a poor background should not limit you.

“Most of you have left your abode to take refuge here but this should not prevent you from having access to good and quality education. Our primary objective is to enrol most of you back in school because we have seen the needs for a good education and to also tell the parents to enrol their wards in school because of the importance of education,” she said.

She also called on well-meaning Nigerians, who knows the importance of education to come to the aid of the children.

AljazirahNigeria, in an exclusive interview with the Executive Director of Victims Support Fund, VSF Professor Sunday Ochoche explained that the fund has been contributing to the education development of the children in IDPs camps across the nation.

He said that VSF has donated N2 Billion to support safe school initiative, and has distribute educational materials to about 57, 000 children that will enable the victims to continue their education.

‘’We have our women economic programme, which is for women. We have educational support programme, which has targeted 57, 000 children, where we provide educational books, writing materials, all educational materials that will make victims to continue with education.

‘’We have the foster care programme, there are many children who has been displaced, who have been separated from their parent, we are now placing these children in homes and taking care of them.

‘’There is also our support to the save school initiative, where children in the north-east are moved out of there to safer places, we have committed N2 Billion to support such initiatives.

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