By Michael Olugbode
In an effort to minimise the effect of Covid-19 on education in Borno State, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that it is distributing 1,500 radio sets to hard-to-reach communities of the troubled state.
UNICEF’s action in conjunction with the Borno State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) will pave the way for the introduction of a pilot radio learning programme to educate more than 250,000 vulnerable children in the North-east state.
The Education Manager, UNICEF Borno Field Office, Dr. Nasser Kaddoura, made this known on Monday in Maiduguri after a meeting of a 13-member committee set up by SUBEB to implement response strategies to the impact of Covid-19 on basic education in the state.
According to Kaddoura, the programme will help to minimise the impact of school closure on learners, adding that children in primary and junior secondary schools will benefit from remote learning.
Kaddoura said: “Children in North-east Nigeria are conflict-affected and behind in terms of school enrolment and retention. UNICEF, with support from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), will continue to initiate novel learning patterns and support the state government in its resolve to expand education access to conflict-affected children.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has mandated that learning procedures adapt to the changing times. UNICEF is supporting SUBEB to facilitate continuous learning and minimize the effects of the disruption to the academic calendar. It is imperative to note that the distribution of the radio sets, mobilisation, sensitization, advocacy and monitoring of the programme will be actively supported by members of school-based management committees, SBMCs, an existing infrastructure set up by UNICEF to support school administration in the North-east.”
In a statement, the Chairman of the SUBEB Committee, Ali Bukar Dogo, noted that SUBEB has mobilized relevant stakeholders to facilitate the success of the programme.
Dogo said: “Government is resorting to radio to provide access to education to children during school closure. This is because government cannot afford to allow children to remain idle academically. As a responsible government, we must source for alternative education pathways to ensure access and equity are given to the vulnerable.
“Measures will be put in place for proper monitoring through the departments of quality assurance and school services, SBMCs, Covid-19 committee, education secretaries, head teachers, teachers and other stakeholders in every community will be involved.”
Speaking further, Kaddoura said: “UNICEF, through its facilitators and members of the school-based management committees in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States have already laid the foundation by sensitizing communities and internally-displaced persons camps with Covid-19 prevention and care messages. Radio learning for children is the next level of support to vulnerable children in Borno State.’’