USAID, AUN partner to boost basic education in Northeast Nigeria

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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it will work with the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, to re-establish basic education in Adamawa and Gombe state.

The two states are in the conflict-ravaged northeastern Nigeria.

The US agency said the partnership will help strengthen basic education for 200,000 students.

The agency disclosed this in a press statement it sent to PREMIUM TIMES Friday evening.

It said AUN will collaborate with Columbia and Kent State Universities in the U.S. under a three-year $13.3 million agreement.

The statement said USAID and AUN will partner with local governments and community leaders to implement the project titled “Addressing Education in Northeast Nigeria (AENN).”

It said the project aims to improve the ability of education managers to plan and deliver basic services in line with the states’ education sector strategy.

According to the statement, the USAID Education Office Director, Denise O’Toole, said the support is to help a major institute of higher learning in the northeast re-establish the basics of primary education for thousands of students.

“This new activity focuses on some of the most vulnerable areas of Nigeria, where insurgents have made eradication of education a specific tenet of their policy,” he said.

He said AENN will also address the social and emotional challenges that both educators and learners face from the disruptions caused by the extremist insurgency.

He said the project will address the challenges facing the education systems in Adamawa and Gombe states by training 100 education managers.

”We will also improve the instructional skills of 5,000 teachers, and focus on specific training for female teachers in 200 primary schools, ” he said.

Out-of-school children in Nigeria’s northeast

The News Agency of Nigeria in 2018 reported the Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board saying it planned to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state in 2018/2019 academic session by 50 per cent.

The report quoted the Acting Secretary of the board, Zulaihatu Madugu.

According to Mrs Madugu, “UNICEF said there are over 450, 000 out-of-school children in the state, but I think that statistics is more than the actual figure.”

She said the result of the school audit by the Universal Basic Education Commission(UBEC) will give the actual figure.

Premium Times also reported that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was targeting over 501,749 out-of-school children in four northern Nigerian states in its Educate A Child (EAC) programme.

The EAC was introduced as a funding window to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states by 2020.

Access to education in the northeast has severely declined since the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry began displacing families and communities a decade ago.

Boko Haram was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 but the group has been led by Abubakar Shekau since 2009.

When Boko Haram first formed, their actions were nonviolent. Their main goal was to “purify Islam in northern Nigeria.”

However, since the current insurgency started in 2009, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes. The Global Terrorism Index in 2015 ranked Boko Haram as the world’s deadliest terror group.

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