Amidst conflict, displacement and persistent challenges, there is hope for a promising future for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Federal Capital Territory, as a group of volunteer teachers on humanitarian services have offered to provide education for them. HENRY TYOHEMBA writes.
It is a fact that humanitarian emergencies remain one of the biggest development challenges of the twenty-first century, despite the growing efforts to address some of them. In Nigeria for instance, there has been an alarming rate in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the past few years which has further resulted in destruction of habitation for which mostly women and children are greatly affected, thus, denying many children access to education.
This devastating the destruction has forced these displaced persons to migrate to places where they seek refuge and be protected from further violence. In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, there are at least more than three IDP camps in existence, with many children being denied the right to education.
The Internally displaced persons are therefore forced to leave their house but remain within their country’s borders, while many people, mostly children are denied access to good health and education.
According to data from an online site, Statista.com, Nigeria has the third highest number of IDPs in Africa. In 2020, it counted 2.7 million internally displaced people. Overall, Africa has the largest number of IDPs in the world.
While there are other challenges confronting children in the camps, education remains one of the major challenges. To help overcome the challenge, a group of teachers, in partnership with charity organisations have taken the responsibility to ensure that the children in New Kuchingoro camp receive education.
New Kuchingoro, the village which houses the IDP camp is situated in Kaura, FCT Abuja and is just about 200 meters from the popular games village. It is host to one of the camps where the more than five million Nigerians who have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency are taking refuge in Abuja.
The IDPs living in New Kuchingoro IDP came from Gwoza local government council in Borno State and Madagali local government council in Adamawa State. Kuchingoro is a mixed faith camp in that 70% of the people are Christians while 30% are Muslims, LEADERSHIP gathered.
Nearly 2000 men, women, youth and children live in New Kuchingoro IDP camp, living in substandard accommodation with poor access to health, education, and sanitation.
The volunteer teachers in the Federal Capital Territory therefore, embarked on humanitarian services by giving voluntary teaching to the victims.
Forced out of their homes by terrorists, over 300 children from Gwoza Local Government Area in Borno, Northeast Nigeria, finally have a chance at a more fruitful future through Eternal Love Service, a schooling initiative for the underprivileged.
Some of the teachers, who were also displaced in 2014 from Borno, were moved to help the children when they visited the camp due to the passion they have for their people, having already graduated at the time. The teachers, together with other charity organisations, are aiding the children to acquire former education.
The founder/coordinator of the school, “Sharing Prosperity Primary School,” Enoch Yohanna said the reason for coming up with the initiative was to give the children hope in life again after the disaster.
Yohanna himself was displaced in 2014 from Borno. He revealed that he was moved to help the children when he visited the camp the same year due to the passion he has for his people, having already graduated at the time.
“When I see the type of life they are living, I promise to change the narrative, to change the story. Because I was educated on conflict during my general study on how to manage conflict, what about someone that cannot read the book, when he has a book that is written on to manage a conflict how can they understand.”
He further said that they have a Graduate Association of Internally Displaced Persons to help pass knowledge to the IDPs, saying that the meeting is not to have names or affiliation with any politician but to also seek a way that will work for their people.
“We started advocating on volunteering your time to teach these children to give them quality education and we have started doing that by giving them extra lessons and in which we saw the impact we started the advocacy of having a school and an organization built the school and handed it over to the IDP. And as I’m telling you we volunteer to start, we work freely.
“I think the first year, that is 2018 that we started, the highest amount the teachers were being paid for the whole year is N3000 because we have gathered N1000 each from the parents to buy books, the boards because we want a high standard of education. This is the reason that if you go to our classes we don’t want to use chalk boards, the idea behind this is we take these children to private schools to see the world there so that they will be admired. If they admire them they will have passion for education.
“From that money that the parents gathered we run the school from 2018-2019 we took N1000 each per term recharge card and we have the parents that are monitoring us because we told them that we are doing it not because of money. “We also have a campaign of N50 not for those in the camp but for people that can afford to pay. N50 can take a child off the street for a whole day with feeding inclusive. With the N50, N25 goes to the teacher. If we have 30 kids in the class and we have somebody that is ready to pay that N50 for a whole month we have N30,000 and M15,000 goes to the teacher because we will make sure that he is teaching and we will make sure that the person paying the money know that things are working well to avoid being corrupt,” he added.
The school was set up with support from the Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa (DEPA) and implementing partners, Pan African Development Education and Advocacy Programme (PADEAP) Nigeria and the University of Abuja are also working with the school.
It is gathered that the school has over 250 children enrolled from early years/nursery to primary, with a team of 14 staff, including head teacher, assistant head teacher, 4 classroom teachers and 6 early years/nursery workers.
The overall aim is to ensure all children and young people living in the camp have access to quality primary, secondary and post-secondary education.
Why the major challenge has been the lack of financial aid so that teachers can take good care of the students, some volunteer teachers key into the system to contribute their quota.
Our reporter who visited the camp gathered that through the help of the teachers there has been a transformation as children embraced formal education and are ready to go further following the establishment of the ‘Sharing Prosperity School,” in the camp with efforts from some concerned groups.
Yohanna, who further explained that the school is in the process of being recognized in the FCT Universal Education Board because of the efforts put in by the volunteer teachers, said the intervention of the charity organisations, and the willingness of teachers to teach and children’s desire to learn is helping the school to progress.
However, despite the fact teachers and other partners are aiding the education of the children the camp is being confronted with other challenges which remain unaddressed.
A mother of two, who identified herself as Marayam commended the teachers and other partners for giving education to the children, but said more needs to be done to ensure the health success of the children in society.
LEADERSHIP gathered that there are two sets of volunteer IDP teachers-the regular volunteer and non-regular volunteer teachers. The regular volunteer teachers who are the IDP ones that would make all efforts to see that they are coming daily may have a minimum requirement of O’level which has about 13 of them.
For the non-regulars, they are the people that volunteer their days to be coming to teach, they don’t come every day, they come at their leisure in order to help the children and transform knowledge on the volunteer IDP teachers who don’t have enough experience.
“With the increasing crisis in the country that has no bearing it has reduced interest of people to support because the number is high, where are you starting from, is it the bandits or kidnapped victims? The health of these children is paramount and it will require the intervention of many people to cater for their needs,” she said.
This story has been supported by Nigeria Health Watch through the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.
SOURCE: ALL AFRICA