FG, UNICEF plan transit schools for over 11,000 out-of-school children in Niger

The Federal Government, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has concluded arrangements for the establishment of Transit schools and low-cost houses for over 11,000 out-of-school children and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) displaced by Bandits in Niger State.

The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, who disclosed this in Shiroro Local Government of Niger State, reiterated commitment towards President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, which focuses on the eradication of poverty and reduction of the humanitarian crisis in the country.

The Minister said the multi-dimensional humanitarian challenges facing parts of the state were surmountable with partnerships between the federal government and development partners.

Dr Edu lamented the continued closure of over 400 schools in the State, which has forced over 11,000 pupils and students out of their classrooms. She called for immediate action to ameliorate the situation, saying it was unacceptable as a lack of basic education predisposes people to poverty.

The Minister commended the State Governor, Muhammed Umaru Bago, for continued payment of the displaced teachers’ salaries, encouraging them to continue to teach children under the new transit classrooms provided by the government and UNICEF at temporary holding sites.

Dr. Edu expressed optimism that peace will soon return to communities affected by banditry and that displaced persons will return to their homes. “We will help you resettle appropriately.

“The Federal Government is considering options for providing a resettlement centre in the interim where IDPs can resettle and vacate the school premises they are presently occupying so that our children can return to their classes.

“The current staggering figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria is not good for the country. As you know, education is the foundation, and if we must fight poverty, we must return our children to school because that is the key and the beginning of ending the circle of poverty.

“As a government, we will do all we can to tackle the problem from the root cause so that they can continue with their education.”

The Minister said her Ministry will be working with the Niger State government and UNICEF to provide transit learning areas in the state as a stop-gap measure to enable the affected pupils to continue with their studies.

As part of her itinerary in Niger State, Dr. Edu also flagged off the presentation of starter packs to 400 N-Skills beneficiaries. The equipment, including vulcanizing machines, pumping and grass-cutting machines, and irrigation pumps, among others, were distributed to the trained IDPs, while food and nonfood items were also distributed.

Speaking earlier, the Niger State First Lady, Hajia Fatima Umaru Bago, commended the Minister and President Tinubu for their interest in the humanitarian needs of the people of the state and Nigeria in general.

“These Internally Displaced Persons need help, and we have to find a way to bring an end to insecurity in our state. Once there is security, the poverty level will be largely reduced.

“We have heard and felt the message of Renewed hope that the Honourable Minister brought to us in Niger State from Mr. President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” the First Lady said.

On his part, the State Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ahmed Baba Suleiman, said that 29,774 people have been displaced by bandits in the State.

The figure, according to him, comprised 7,650 women, 3,201 men, and 11,113 out-of-school children, in addition to 108 people with special needs across 11 Local Government Areas.

He appealed to the Federal Government for immediate intervention and collaboration with the state to reduce the humanitarian challenges and poverty that displaced victims of banditry are facing in the State.


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