By Michael Olugbode
The Yobe State Government has said the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing temporary learning shades to enable classes resume at Katarko Primary School, recently burnt down by Boko Haram insurgents.
The school, a military base, and a primary healthcare centre were burnt down during a recent attack on Katarko village by Boko Haram.
Speaking during a visit on Wednesday to the village to assess the level of damage, the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Musa Alabe, announced the gesture by UNICEF.
Alabe, who was accompanied on the visit by UNICEF officials and the security adviser to Governor Mai Mala Buni, Dahiru Abdulsalam, said UNICEF offered to help the state government ensure the immediate reopening of the school.
He assured the community that the school will resume within two weeks, noting that the state can no longer close down schools indefinitely because of the insurgents.
He said: “Boko Haram cannot stop us from educating our children. We are renovating and constructing 14 Temporary Learning Shades for the Katarko Primary School through the assistance of UNICEF.
“We are resolute, determined and defiant not to allow such attacks to demoralise us. We are hopeful in two weeks to commence classes.
“In the past, you saw schools being closed down for like one year but now, immediately we have this kind of problem, we will put up temporary learning measures.
“We are redefining our strategy and the insurgents cannot stop us from educating our children. Therefore, I am assuring this community that in the next two weeks, this school will be back to learning.”
Speaking to journalists at the event, Yobe State’s UNICEF Supervisor for Education, Abdullahi Bula, said the decision to immediately rebuild the burnt down school was in order to prevent the students from facing trauma.
He said UNICEF had helped in renovating the school after two previous attacks by the insurgents.
Bula said: “It’s unfortunate. The whole school, like you can see, is burnt down, except one structure and a temporary learning shade that is left standing erect.
“The whole block of three classrooms that was renovated by UNICEF sometime back was burnt down and even some other temporary learning shades that were also constructed by PLAN International in partnership with UNICEF were all burnt down by the insurgents.
“You can see that the whole school is not conducive for learning now because the trauma that it will cause the students seeing that their classrooms are burnt down, is something that is disturbing.
“So this requires some urgent replacement of these structures by renovating them and bringing them back to normalcy. That would reduce the fear and the trauma in them because they will see their classes normalised.”
According to him, “This is the third time that this school has been burnt. At every time in the past that the school was burnt, UNICEF has contributed immensely in either the renovation or the reconstruction of the school.
“Even now, UNICEF still has (the) interest to bring the school back to its feet. But the most urgent thing UNICEF can do now is the provision of temporary learning shades for the children to start their school.
“This can be done in a very short span of time but even the construction can still be done if the whole process is completed.”