Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has assured children in the troubled North-east not to despair, insisting that their future is assured.
The over 10 years Boko Haram insurgency has left more than 1.5 million displaced, several thousand widowed and orphaned, even as many children have been forced out of school.
Speaking during an event organised by the Fund to mark the 2020 World Children’s Day in Maiduguri, UNICEF Field Officer in Borno, Mr. Maulid Warfa urged children forced out of their schools by insurgency and taking temporary shelters at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the three most affected states of the North east, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe not to be despair about the future of their education.
Warfa, who recalled an experience while growing up, said he was not different from them but today he had surmounted the obstacle thrown at him.
He recounted the story of his life as an IDP child in Somalia, an East African country where he lived at an IDPs camp after being forced out of school by insurgents.
He said as a victim of violence and kidnap, the road to his education initially appeared gloomy but he kept his hope alive and has a story to tell today.
He urged the children not to lose hope, stressing that the future was still bright.
Warfa said: “Just like you children, I grew up in an IDPs camp in Southern Somalia. I was only nine (9) years at that time. Like you, I have lost families and friends to insurgency. I have been ambushed, I have been kidnapped before. I know the feeling of hunger and lack of furniture in classroom.”
He said he did not give up his idea and determination to get education despite all the odds, noting that the obstacle rather propelled him to move forward.
The field officer said COVID-19 pandemic complicated the out-of-school plight of the IDPs children in the three northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe as protected closure of schools and almost halt the education of the IDPs children at the camps for displaced persons.
He said UNICEF with collaboration from partners, was supporting over a million children in remote learning on radio and television in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
“In Borno, 685, 000 children including those attending Islamiyya and Tsangaya centres, are being supported with remote learning,” he disclosed.
Borno Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo congratulated the children. She urged them to see themselves as future leaders even as she assured of the support of the government to the children and women.
Some of the children that spoke during the event canvassed for the introduction of vocational skills in primary and secondary schools. They said the skill acquired would assist them to be self-reliant to support their education. They also asked for the continuation of palliatives to the poor even after COVID-19.