By Dayo Adesulu
CAMEROON has beaten Nigeria to clinch the $7.8 million Global Partnership for Education (GPE) fund to support the education of 36,500 children displaced by conflict and violence in neighbouring countries.
Cameroon is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the CentralAfrican Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south.
The donor said that the new funding would help the Government of Cameroon to provide schooling for children fleeing from conflict in Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria.
More than half of the 3.3 million people who have sought refuge in Cameroon are school-age children with urgent education needs.
The Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Alice Albright while congratulating the Government of Cameroon said:We congratulate the Government of Cameroon for supporting education programs for refugee children and are pleased to be able to respond quickly to their request for help.
Albright, who stated that GPE had determined to ensure that no child misses the opportunity to unlock his or her full potential, adding that her organisation was pleased to provide urgent support for children whose lives have been torn apart by crisis while ensuring a long-term development perspective.
Her words: ‘’Responding to urgent education needs of refugee and displaced children as well as children of host communities far-North, East and Adamawa regions of Cameroon, the grant will help local schools to prepare accelerated learning programs for 1,000 children currently not in school, build 300 primary classrooms and 32 latrine blocks and help promote good health and better hygienic practices at school, including by providing 2,000 hygienic kits to girls in the upper grades. UNICEF, as GPE grant agent, will implement the program in partnership with the government and other partners.
‘’The funding will also support a more inclusive and protective learning environment by training teachers on peace education and social cohesion, psychological support for traumatized children and distributing 36,000 education kits, school supplies and textbooks on maths and reading. Part of the funding will also be used to assess the needs of students in the western areas of Cameroon, which have been affected by unrest since the end of 2016.
‘’The grant builds on progress from an ongoing GPE grant of US$53.3 million which supports the recruitment of qualified teachers and their deployment to areas most in need, the dissemination of textbooks to improve children’s learning and the establishment of a learning outcomes unit in the education ministry to improve the availability and analysis of education data.’’
For some Nigerians who wonder why GPE never looked at the direction of Nigeria who has similarly challenges of children that are displaced by conflict and Boko Haram insurgency, there are certain conditions applicants must meet before the grant.
According to her, the funding follows a request from Cameroon in March to fast track a part of their GPE funding allocation to support the government’s humanitarian response plan. GPE’s accelerated funding process enables countries to access up to 20% of their grant funds for which they are eligible to respond to emergencies. To ensure a clear bridge between the humanitarian response needs and long-term development, the accelerated funding must be agreed between both the local education group and the humanitarian education cluster. If Nigeria Government meets the above criteria, it would receive the education grant for our displaced children in the North.
GPE approach is to provide grants to strengthen education systems where 30% of the funds are linked to achieving results in equity, efficiency and learning
In approach target inequalities, train teachers, build schools, empower girls, support data collection and monitoring and improve learning.
GPE also established fund evidence-based education sector planning that help coordinate all partners to align their support for national education strategies and systems and to also help countries undertake analytic work to develop clear and measurable education sector plans.