The Boko Haram insurgency has ravaged the north-eastern region of Nigeria in a devastating way. Described as one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world, the group has taken many lives (6,644 in 2014 alone) and has stolen many futures. ‘Boko Haram’ translated in Hausa, a language vastly spoken in Nigeria means “Education is Forbidden” and true to their name and mandate, the group has made immense headway in frustrating educational institutions particularly across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in the country since the crisis began in 2009. In the wake of their senseless bloodshed, we are left with harrowing statistics that tell a distressing story of the future of Nigeria as well as Africa.
According to Human Rights Watch, approximately 611 teachers have been intentionally killed and a further 19,000 have been forced to flee since 2009. Over 2,000 people, mostly female, have been abducted from their schools while 910 schools were destroyed and 1,500 were forced to close. “By early 2016, an estimated 952,029 school-age children had fled the violence. They have little or no access to education, likely blighting their future for years to come.” Thankfully, the present government of Nigeria has made great progresses in its attempts to end the insurgency and people are beginning to return back to their hometowns.
In efforts to encourage families to send their children back to school and in support of the successful achievement of the sustainable development goals, the Abuja Global Shapers Community partnered with Etisalat Nigeria to carry out an initiative targeted at improving school enrollment rates in the Northeast region of Nigeria. The ‘Community Schools Support Programme’ entailed the delivery of one thousand school bags, one thousand sets of uniforms, ten thousand exercise books and one thousand sets of writing materials to Primary 1 students in 10 government schools in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, the regions most impacted by the insurgency.
”We are honoured to take up this project as part of our company’s corporate social responsibility because we are confident that we are contributing positively to moulding the future of Nigeria; it is also a pleasure for us to accomplish this in partnership with an organization like the Abuja Global Shapers Community, a group of young leaders working tirelessly to improve our world” Mohammed-Suleh Yusuf, Head, Government and Community Relations at Etisalat Nigeria noted.
The project kicked off on the 25th of April in Borno State, where the teams, hosted by the Borno State government presented the school kits to students of Yerwa Practising Primary School, Abbaganaram Primary School and Bulumkutu Primary School.
“As at 2013, 52 percent of males and 61 percent of females aged six and above in the northeast have received no education. Today it is about 85 percent,” said Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, the Curator of the Abuja Global Shapers Hub; “this calls for swift emergency intervention,” he added. Mudiaga Odibo who led the procurement team for the Abuja Global Shapers added: “It was a very challenging project, but knowing that we are sending these children out to society’s battlefield armed with books and pens and with the renewed hope of a much brighter future makes me elated to be a part of this.”
The team at Yobe state distributed the materials to the students of Katuzu Community School in Gashua, Central Primary School in Potiskum and Damaturu, as well as Lawan Kawuri Primary School in Geidam. The programmed culminated on the 28th of April, when the team arrived Yola tomeet the students of Wuro Hausa Primary School in Yola Town, Community School in Demsa and Tudun Wada Primary School, Mayo Belwa and their teachers in Adamawa State. The head teachers of all the schools expressed their gratitude towards Etisalat and Abuja Global Shapers stressing that it is comforting for them to know that they have not been neglected even with the insurgency in the Northeast region of the country.
Rahima Aminu, the Project Manager for the Abuja Global Shapers Community while thanking Etisalat for partnering with them on the project, called on all Nigerians to take up the responsibility of improving Nigeria’s educational ecosystem. She maintained that, “If these children sitting here and their parents have not given up, if they can wake up and fight to go to school, despite all the obstacles in their paths, then we cannot afford to give up on them. It is our duty to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her human potential, it is our duty to nurture more Dangotes, more Achebes, more trailblazers and most crucially, it is our duty to ensure that more of our children do not lose their humanity.”
- Image 1: The School Kits
- Image 2: The Abuja Global Shapers and Etisalat team with the students and teachers of Tudun Wada Primary School Mayo Belwa
- Image 3: Some of the beneficiaries of the Community Schools Support Programmes with their new uniforms and school bags
- Image 4: Rahima Aminu Manager, Special Projects for the Abuja Global Shapers Community speaks about inalienable importance of educating our children