women, half a million conflict-affected children to benefit
Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
The Government of Norway has donated $11.5 million, ( 3.6 billion Naira) to improve basic education and support girls and women who have been victims of sexual violence by Boko Haram in the conflict-affected northeast states such as Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe.
According to a press statement sent to our reporter yesterday by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief Communication Officer, Mrs. Doune Porter, said the funding is part of the Safe Schools Initiative in northern Nigeria.
She noted that In 2013, Norway was a pioneer member of the Safe Schools Initiative committee established in response to Boko Haram attacks on schools in the northeast and the urgent need to provide a safe learning environment for children.
She said with UNICEF support, about one hundred thousand children are currently accessing education through Temporary Learning Spaces and schools in northeast Nigeria.
She explained that the fund will further boost access to education for an additional half a million boys and girls in internally displaced persons’ camps, host communities and areas of Borno state that have recently become accessible areas to humanitarian assistance.
The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud in the statement said, “We believe in the importance of doing what we can to break the cycle of violence in northeast Nigeria.
“This funding will provide more basic education in a good learning environment and will provide much-needed counselling for girls who have suffered unimaginable trauma at the hands of Boko Haram.”
Kjemprud added that Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Børge Brende also attended the signing ceremony to formalise the grant.
He said the generous funding from Norway will provide children; especially girls affected by the conflict, with uniforms to wear to school and will enable them to learn in secure, safe and protected environments.
“Teachers will be trained to improve their skills so they can deliver quality teaching and improve learning results for children; school systems will be improved through training and mentoring of head-teachers on management knowledge and skills.
“School Based Management Committee (SBMCs) members will be trained in school planning, including disaster risk reduction to make schools a safer place for children.
“The funding will also support approximately 1,600 of the thousands of girls and women that UNICEF estimates have been raped, abducted and forcibly married as a result of the conflict. Not only have these victims of violence suffered the trauma of their experiences when they were held by Boko Haram.”