Call for Scaled Up Funding for Much-Needed, Successful Joint Program in Nigeria — Global Issues

Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait Executive Director, speaks with students at the
ECW-supported Pompomary Primary School in Maiduguri, North-East Nigeria.
Credit: ECW
  • by Joyce Chimbi (maiduguri, nigeria & nairobi)
  • Inter Press Service

Grave violations of children’s rights prevail in northeastern areas, including the abduction of thousands of children and young people; girls are enslaved and sexually exploited, and boys forced to become child soldiers. Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Executive Director Yasmine Sherif visited communities affected by the conflict and interconnected crises, witnessing first-hand the positive impact of ECW’s initial Multi-Year Resilience Programme (2021-2024).

“We visited a primary school, a transitional center for boys that fled Boko Haram areas, and one non-formal education center that provides vocational skills training. We have seen the power of holistic education to rehabilitate and reintegrate boys who have fled from Boko Haram areas back into society. ECW and partners, the national Ministry of Education, the Federal State Government, local organizations, teachers, students, and psychologists are all working hand-in-hand, leveraging education to heal children from traumatic experiences—providing them with better life prospects,” Sherif told IPS.

Sherif met with senior government officials, including the Minister of Education, Dr. Tahir Mamman, and Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, and aid partners, all working to ensure the right to education for boys and girls. She stressed that ECW’s expanded funding for crisis-affected girls and boys in north-east Nigeria is “an investment in a more stable, prosperous, and peaceful future for the whole region. ECW’s plans to continue providing safe, quality holistic education and learning opportunities towards protecting children and youth from exploitation—empowering them to achieve their dreams of touching humanity.”

Sherif was also accompanied by a high-level delegation from UNICEF and the governments of Germany and Norway. Germany is ECW’s leading donor with USD 366 million in total contributions, and Norway is the Fund’s fifth largest donor with total contributions of USD 131 million. Building resilient education systems is both critical and urgent for Nigeria’s crisis-impacted children.

ECW’s initial Multi-Year Resilience Programme, delivered by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, and UNICEF, has consistently achieved its targets, and has so far reached nearly 500,000 children and adolescents with quality, holistic education in areas affected by the crisis in north-east Nigeria.

“We need additional funding to reach all two million children in north-east Nigeria and end the out-of-school crisis. Meanwhile, the rest of the world cannot wait—we have dire needs in the Middle East, the refugees in Latin America , across the Sahel region, and in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, where nine in 10 children cannot read simple sentences,” Sherif emphasizes.

“ECW appeals for additional strategic donor partners—governments, the private sector, philanthropic foundations, and high-net-worth individuals—to join our efforts in mobilizing an additional US$600 million to reach our target of US$1.5 billion for ECW, allowing our partners to reach, by 2026, a total of 20 million girls and boys in crises-affected areas of the world quality education.”

Dr. Heike Kuhn, Co-Chair of the ECW Executive Committee and Head of Education Division at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, agrees, saying that building “resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, quality, and lifelong learning is crucial for Nigeria, as half of its population are children and youth. Educating children means changing their lives and letting them participate in building peaceful, sustainable societies.”

Merete Lundemo, Co-Chair of the ECW Executive Committee and Special Envoy for Education in Crisis and Conflict for Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also emphasized that education is a lifeline for crisis-impacted children and that education projects bring much needed relief and normalcy to children in affected areas. Welcoming strengthened cooperation with ECW to ensure that no child is left behind and that this is part of Norway’s wider engagement for children living in armed conflict.

“This joint program and the education needs and dreams of Nigeria’s crisis-impacted children align with the African Union’s call on all governments to ensure that all children access quality education, officially declaring 2024 as the ‘Year of Education.’ We must all come together with urgency and commitment to make this a reality for the poor, vulnerable children in Africa living on the margins of abject poverty, fleeing from the traumas of violent conflict and interconnected crises,” Sherif observed.

The delegation also met with survivors of conflict-related sexual violence who are co-creating a new innovative project launched by the Global Survivors Fund with funding support from ECW. The initiative provides formal and non-formal education as a form of reparation for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and their children.The expanded funding for the planned Multi-Year Resilience Programme shall build on ECW’s USD 23.6 million investments in the north-east of Nigeria since 2018. The investments are delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Education, UN agencies, and international and local civil society partners.

With a focus on building lasting solutions applying the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, ECW investments in the north-east of Nigeria have provided children with learning materials, supported teacher training and incentives, school feeding, provided essential mental health and psychosocial support for girls and boys impacted by the conflict, and worked with national authorities to get children back to school through permanent community-based programmes.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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