SEATTLE — In July 2017, Nigeria’s Ministry of Education secretary Adamu Hussaini reported that 10.5 million Nigerian children were not in school. While cultural factors have been blamed for the dilemma, the true problem is that many Nigerian schools lack the funding needed to function. However, providing education to Nigeria’s children has been an ongoing campaign for UNICEF and other entities.
How Slum2School Helps Nigeria’s Children
Founded in 2012 by retired banker Otto Orondaam, Slum2School is an organization that helps disadvantaged Nigerian children and others attend school. In August 2017, Slum2School had enrolled 650 children in schools over a four-year period. The enrolled children’s retention rate is 66 percent. “Imagine an economy with [more]graduates who are creating jobs, building businesses, starting enterprises. See the opportunity?” says Orondaam.
IRC’s Children of Peace Project in Nigeria
Ongoing terrorism has forced millions of Nigerian children to leave school and their homes. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps these children through its Children of Peace Project, an initiative that supports and boosts children’s self-esteem. In August 2017, the project had reached more than 12,000 children in 42 learning centers throughout Nigeria’s highly impoverished regions.
One of the children, Ruth, had to leave school for three years when a terrorist group attacked her village. Ruth is thankful for how IRC is providing education to Nigeria’s children. “School and play help us forget what happened, and allow us to make new friendships so we can deal with our situation,” she says.
The Work of Nigeria’s Ministry of Education
In January 2018, Nigeria’s minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the country’s percentage of out of school children dropped from 10.5 percent to 8.6 percent in the last three years. Adamu thanked the country’s school feeding program for providing education to Nigeria’s children.
“The government has put so many programs in place to encourage our children to have access to schools, and I want to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for that,” he said.
Adamu also said that Nigeria’s Ministry of Education enforced a policy to construct and furnish 7,875 classrooms in the next four years. The policy comes from a commitment in 2015 for the ministry to enroll 2,725,000 pupils and recruit additional teachers to meet the schools’ increasing enrollment rates. The ministry also started an Enrollment Drive Policy to take Nigerian children off the streets and put them in schools.
The World Bank Is Providing Education to Nigeria’s Children Through Financing
In February 2018, the World Bank supported Nigeria’s federal government with $611 million to help the country’s many children get back to school. Solomon Adebayo, the World Bank’s education specialist, said that 90 percent of the $611 million would go to three million Nigerian children who cannot afford to attend school. The initiative will mainly support Nigeria’s North West and North East geopolitical zones for the next five years.
How One Nigerian Boy Grew to Make a Difference
As a teenager, Nigerian resident James Okina stole from his classmates and was “mixing with the wrong crowd,” he admits. However, Okina’s life took a positive change when he and his church minister financially helped two Nigerian boys afford schooling. “After I got these two kids back to school, I couldn’t avoid it. I got myself more and more entangled,” Okina remembers.
In 2018, 18-year-old Okina is marking his third year as head of a charity providing education to Nigeria’s children of Calabar, the Cross River State capital. Okina has crowdsourced funds to educate 215 Nigerian children and has a network of 50 volunteers helping his initiative. “I do not intend to go looking for a job. But I will build my career around this cause,” he says.
The Karis School Project in Nigeria
In 2010, Medical University of South Carolina chaplain JohnBosco Ikemeh traveled to his homeland of Nigeria and discovered his calling to help the country’s poorest children attend school. “Knowing what education did for me, I was determined to give them a school as a way of giving back,” he said. In 2014, Bosco completed purchasing parcels of land in Abakaliki (the Ebonyi State capital) for his Karis School project that would become a new learning facility for Nigeria’s impoverished children.
Ikemeh plans for the school’s children to have not just paper and pencils, but laptops and scientific equipment. As of February 2018, the school’s privacy fence is being built and Ikemeh hopes that the classroom’s construction will begin as well. The community also has running water, but the underground water is still unclean. Water Missions International is building equipment that will purify the remaining water.
The Positive Impact of UNICEF’s Assistance Program
In March 2014, UNICEF launched a two-year cash assistance program that would help more Nigerian children afford schooling. As a result of this aid, the enrollment rate of Sokoto State’s female students rose from 12 to 40 percent. Inspired by the program’s help, Nigeria’s government announced in March 2018 that it would pay parents $41 yearly to keep their daughters in school. The government’s initiative will be especially helpful for providing education to Nigeria’s children from impoverished families.
A Positive Future for Nigeria’s Children
Much progress has been made in helping more Nigerian children afford and attend school. Providing education to Nigeria’s children will continue to be an initiative for many entities. Though Nigeria once had the highest number of out of school children, it is steadily moving toward a positive trend and creating a brighter future for its youth.
– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar