LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS: THE JAIERI BAYAN TEXACO SCHOOL IN MAIDUGURI, NORTH EAST NIGERIA
Around 50,000 people live in the community of Jaieri Bayan Texaco in the outskirts of the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, of which 30,000 are children of school going age. The area’s population has vastly increased since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009; many of the community’s inhabitants are displaced people who have escaped the conflict to the relative safety of the state capital. Education in North East Nigeria is on the front line; Boko Haram means ‘Western education is forbidden’ and hundreds of schools have been burned, and hundreds of teachers killed.
Those fleeing the conflict left with few possessions, and almost all left their main livelihoods behind. Families from the ‘host’ community are also extremely poor, barely scraping a living in a city that has been at the epicentre of the emergency. For these families to educate their children, in February this year they had two main options. First was the nearest private school, charging fees of $160 per year, entirely beyond the capacity of families living on less than $1 a day. Second was the closest government school - an hour’s walk away for their children and hugely over-subscribed.
As a result, when Street Child visited in February with its Nigerian partner NGO most children in Jaieri Bayan Texaco community had not only been displaced from their homes, but were also not in school.
Together with our Nigerian NGO partner, we worked together on a plan to address the inter-linking barriers to education. First, we carried out a consultation with the community, to understand their needs and willingness to send their children to school, as well engage them in the process. Then, in June 2017 we built a temporary learning centre inside the host community, attaching walls and a zinc roof on the side of a basic structure that is being used as a dwelling for IDPs. Next, we engaged a Nigerian university with a reputation for training emergency education facilitators in the neighbouring state of Adamawa.
Street Child worked to adapt and roll out their teacher training in the similar context of Borno state. Ten facilitators, five men and five women, were trained in delivery of basic education as well as essential emergency-related training in psycho-social support and hygiene promotion by two trained teachers who continue to provide ongoing mentoring and in-service training. We provided teaching and learning materials for all 300 children attending, and set up after-school girls and boys clubs as safe spaces for discussion and psycho-social support in the conflict context.
Many children attending the school have specific child protection needs, living in foster families, at risk of recruitment by armed groups, or at risk of abuse. Providing specific support are two trained case workers, who have identified and trained a local community-based child protection committee to refer and support children at risk.
After providing the school infrastructure, trained teachers, and access to counselling, the final component of our inter-sectoral approach seeks to address the greatest barrier to long-term education of children in the community: family poverty. We identified of 100 of the poorest families within the community who had taken on the great responsibility of fostering IDP children, and provided them with a package of training and cash grant support, to improve their ability to care for their children and overall to build household income and overall resilience.
This temporary learning centre in Maiduguri exemplifies Street Child’s model, and has seen impressive results. Attendance has averaged over 320 children, with girls attendance even higher than boys. Most crucially, learning outcomes have significantly improved in the five months of the project so far; with a 49% improvement in basic mathematics and 48% improvement in basic literacy. Two unaccompanied children have been identified and referred for counselling and extra support; one we have been able to identify her family and begin the reunification process.
These 300 children on the outskirts of Maiduguri are more fortunate than most. There are an estimated 2.5m children across the North East out of school as a result of the conflict.
In 2018, Street Child will take this approach to scale. We have secured funding from UNICEF and the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund to extend education and child protection support to at least 23,000 children across the North East, by building 60 temporary learning centres, rehabilitating 120 classrooms and training 450 teachers. We continue to seek funding to take our livelihoods approach to scale to tackle family poverty, which remains the overarching barrier to education for children in the North East of Nigeria.
Through UK Aid Match the UK government will match all donations to our Right to Learn appeal, pound for pound, until 15th February.