By Peter Duru – Makurdi
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, is to commence the construct of Temporary Learning Centers, TLCs, in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in Benue state to provide conducive learning environment for displaced children in the camps.
The was disclosed Monday by the outgoing UNICEF Chief of Enugu Field Office, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh when he paid a farewell visit to the Tse Uikpam IDPs Camp in Guma Local Government Area of Benue state.
He explained that the TLCs which would be set up at the Uikpam camp would be a temporary school structure that would accommodate about 500 to 600 pupils and furnished with chairs and desks to ensure comfort for the children.
Dr. Conteh said: “We already have the budget and we are doing the contracting process now. Maybe in the next two weeks, they will start erecting the Temporary Learning Centers.
“It is not really a permanent school, it is a semi-permanent school to give opportunity to children not to sit under the trees to learn but to sit in a proper classroom. We will also be providing desks and chairs to ensure that these children have a proper learning environment.
“For now, we only have funding for this (Uikpam) camp and we are planning to put two big units in place so that we can have between 500 to 600 children in there. But we are also still looking for more funding.
“As we get more funding we will continue to do more. So, this is not the end. This is just the start. At least, they can have a place to go to school and we will continue to address the needs as we have the resources.”
In his parting message Dr. Conteh said, “my final word to Benue State and any other state that I have worked is a word of hope. There is a lot of hope in this country.
“The potential is there. Apparently, the country has been affected by a lot of situations but there is a lot of resilience by communities even in a situation like this, coming to the camp, you see people who are quite happy and are striving to move forward and trying to educate their children, to work hard to put food on the table.
“That is very encouraging. They are not always sitting and waiting for the United Nations or government to come and support them. They also try on their own. Of course, there are things that they are not able to do and those things, for which we always try to come and give them support.
“But we also know that things that they can do, they try do them well. So I think I just want to encourage them to continue that way. We hope that things will be better in the future. But for now, I think there is a lot of hope.
“The people are resilient. So we will continue to support them. And my absence does not change anything because somebody is going to replace me and that person is going to continue the good work that we have already started.
“So, we will continue to engage the people. But we will also continue to knock on the doors of government because we think that the government’s efforts in addressing the situation of women and children is very critical.
“We will continue to knock on the doors of government to do more especially in situations like this, where people are affected. We want the Government to pay more attention to doing more for these communities,” he added