*Says 44,000 teachers won’t reach 9,288 schools

By Joseph Erunke

AS schools resume for new session this year, more than two million children in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Niger, can’t return to school due to insecurity and persistent humanitarian crisis in the countries.
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These countries are in West and Central Africa region.
Also, 44,000 teachers will not be able to reach 9,288 schools in areas affected by the conflict in these countries.
An International Non-Governmental Organisation, Save the Children, disclosed this Thursday in a statement, made available in Abuja, as it launches a public and digital media campaign tagged “Back to School”, with the aim to giving  a voice and drawing attention to the situation where millions of children will not go to school this year.
The campaign highlights the challenge within the West and Central Africa region affected by armed conflict and humanitarian crisis with a focus on Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
In the statement, Regional Director of Save the Children for West and Central Africa, Mr Philippe Adapoe, said while violent internal conflicts, insecurity, natural disaster such as Ebola are troubles that the world regurlay hear about, we must ask ourselves “what the consequences are for children and  young people in the areas affected by these multiple crises?”
According to the statement, “in a context characterised with a rising militarization of the humanitarian space, the centrality of protection remains a huge challenge due to increasing violations against civilians.”
“With their education interrupted, children risk dropping out of school and being exposed to protection concerns such as the recruitment into armed groups, violence, abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence. These risks are even further exacerbated for young girls in times of crisis,” it said.

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It read further: “The organisation advocated that schooling shouldn’t wait despite the insecurity in the affected country, as children affected by conflict are always willing and eager to go back to school.
“It, therefore, recommended that governments of the affected countries should: ” Ensure education continuity through increased budget allocation to education in
emergencies and integration of education in emergencies into sectoral plans.
” Secure schools and all teaching spaces through the implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration and its guidelines and ensure the availability and protection of teachers even in rural and insecure areas.
“Formalise alternative learning opportunities such as community education, distance learning and accelerated education in areas where schools cannot re-open due to insecurity.
“Identify alternative sites to be used as shelters in the event of population displacement or natural disasters, to ensure schools are not used to welcome affected people.
“Train teachers to integrate psychosocial support techniques into teaching methodologies to help children overcome shocks and stress of the crisis.”
“It also urged technical partners and the United Nations  to  “support the government to ensure availability of quality education services in areas  affected by insecurity and recognize education in emergencies as a priority area for all humanitarian responses;
” Increase awareness among communities, religious leaders, non-state actors, about the  importance of education continuity and the protection of schools from attacks.
“Support the development of risk reduction plans with communities to strengthen the protection of schools from attacks.”

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