UNICEF Supports 270,000 Out-of-School Children Acquire Reading, Writing Skills 

Sub: More than 270,000 children, once displaced by the Boko Haram conflict and denied quality access to education, had been supported by UNICEF to acquire literacy through a  specialised model in Borno state, northeast Nigeria. 

By Abdulkareem Haruna 

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said that it has, in 2022, supported more than 270,000 children to acquire basic western literacy in northeast Nigeria. 

UNICEF said this success was recorded with funding support from the government of the United Kingdom (UK). 

UNICEF’s Education Specialist, Yusuf Ismail, told journalists at a media briefing in Maiduguri, Borno state, northeast Nigeria, that the UN body had partnered with the state’s Universal Basic Education Boards to launch the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) methodology program in 537 schools.

Poverty and Illiteracy identified drivers of the Boko Haram insurgency in and around the Lake Chad region. A crisis that has, in the last 13 years, further deepened the level of illiteracy in the northeast subregion. 

The Boko Haram conflict has displaced 1.4 million children in Northeast Nigeria, 80 per cent of whom are in Borno State. This newspaper has also 

It has also been reported that the armed conflict has claimed the lives of over 2,295 teachers and destroyed more than 1,400 classrooms across the northeast region. This onslaught on the public education system has adversely impacted the quality of learning and diminished access to education in the northeast.

The senseless attack on education infrastructure and the lean workforce has further widened the sector’s deficiency gap so badly that pupils in classrooms provided within displacement camps often lack teachers to coach them. 

“Our children would wake up as early as possible to be in classes only to end up using the entire class hours for playing and running around,” Abba Mustapha, an IDP in Muna Alamdari camp, once told a HumAngle reporter. 

“Unicef provided the learning center for us, but no one is there to take care of the pupil, and that worries us a lot.

“Over time, some of the parents became discouraged seeing that their children are not getting any lessons but rather play all day only to return home hungry; so they decided to stop them from attending classes,” he said.  

But with the introduction of the TaRL model of teaching that seeks to build confidence by considering a child’s foundational skill level and providing challenging yet achievable tasks to help them progress, the number of kids picking interest in learning soared. 

“Quality education is a right of every child, and that is why the TaRL methodology is bridging a gap not only in north-east Nigeria but in other parts of the world,” Ismail said.

“With the support of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), we are ensuring that children do not just pass through school but are learning.

”We are changing the tide and addressing the learning crises where over 70 per cent of 10-year-olds in the country can neither read nor write,’’ said Ismail.

UNICEF officials urged governments in north-east Nigeria to invest more in education to enable the programme to reach more children, particularly in the rural communities liberated by the security agencies that are accessible.

“There is no doubt that we can do more with the government’s support and collaboration. Hence for every child who has the opportunity to learn with the TaRL methodology, there are maybe ten others who do not.

“Therefore, as we commemorate the International Day of Education, we are appealing to the government in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to increase budgetary allocation that will lead to an improvement in the quality of learning,’’ he said.

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