Abimbola Fayomi, Education Specialist, Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative during my interview with her talked about the skills gap among local social organizations. Dr. Judith Giwa-Amu also talked about the need for international organizations to support these local organizations. What kind of skills are these? I’m sure you’ve witnessed the skills gap in your work.
Let us talk about the technical aspects of emergency education. Emergency education is different from the education you provide during normal peacetime and from education in development. You also have children who have never been to school, so you have to start with literacy and numeracy skills. For those children, you need a curriculum that can help transit them to a normal curriculum.
There are not many people that work in education that are skilled in this area. You could have a teacher that is trained to deal with out-of-school children but is not trained to avoid mines, conflict resolution or even in terms of providing psychosocial support.
The other skills gap is having to provide organizational development, how do you manage your organization so there is something that when you are talking about you need to have not just the technical aspect but your human development, how to keep financial records all those things into place.
And this curriculum with an emphasis on life skills is already created? And you just need to practice?
Yes. You have the State Mass Literacy Agency, which is the state agency for mass literacy and adult education. They have a non-formal curriculum because we are talking about a region that has one of the highest numbers of children out of school, and about 74% of children that have not had access to education before. There is a curriculum already on the ground, but the issue is that we have to bring it all together and design something that fits the purpose for Nigeria.
Does this skills gap have an impact on these local NGOs’ ability to access funding?
It does, but I also think it’s not an excuse. In an emergency, we need to get people the assistance that they need, and we can’t keep doing that while we do not develop the local NGO. We are the ones that are left here because we don’t have an exit strategy; they do. There are some local NGOs that are ready to work, and I have met some incredible organizations that lack access to funds.
Does culture play a role in impacting the level to which children in the North East have access to education?
Yes, it does, but that’s not a barrier. We have to be flexible to if they want to have Islamic education, they will have it with the formal and non-formal education.
So it should not be a problem?
No. I believe that if a parent insists on having Islamic education, we should infuse it into formal and non-formal education. We should see this as an opportunity to get children to school in an area where they have not had access to education. We should recognize that religion plays a role in our society.
I must ask why is it that we never seem to achieve scale. We have roughly 88,000 children reached in 2 years, I was told about the school transfer program for children that were already going to school previously that were operating in schools in other states.
We have only got 9% of 56.3 million as of July, but this is why I am very hopeful for PCNI to help fill the gap.
What would you say we need from the government right now?
We need the government to lead the way. We talked about children accessing education, but we should not forget about the teachers. What support is being given to them? Are the areas where they are to teach safe and secure? we do not know. What role should the military play when it comes to education? Because right now the military is providing the bulk of education.
Yes, they do.
Yes, they do, and that is because of the situation, but that creates its own issues as well.
Can you go into some detail about what type of issues does that dynamic bring?
Nigeria signed on to the Safe School Declaration in 2015, which is different from