The European Union (EU) on Friday, doled out 20 million Euros (about N8 billion) as support for the education sector in Borno, which had degenerated as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The EU had in January 2018 donated 143 million Euros (N60 billion), as funding for various multi-sectoral interventions in Borno State.
The latest support is a three-year intervention project that will be implemented by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Plan International.
At an event held within Government House, Maiduguri, officials of the EU and Borno government, as well as other development partners, gathered to unveil the project.
The EU head of cooperation in Nigeria, Kurt Cornelis, said the support is solely dedicated for the development of the education sector.
“The project implementation is entrusted to our development partners like UNICEF together with the Norwegian Refugee Council and Plan International with Save the Children,” he said.
“This is, therefore, a unique opportunity to provide education to meet immediate needs and to use this to help create stability and in the longer term, reduce inequalities created in the conflict,” he added.
Mr Cornelis said the project would support ”the early recovery of primary and secondary education services in the areas of displacement”.
He said the intervention will ”cover both boys and girls and will cover issues of incentives that will encourage girls, especially, to attend schools regularly”.
He said the EU intervention would also provide an opportunity for building the capacity of teachers for effectiveness, ”improve the capacity of government for effective monitoring and evaluation of the project”.
“The project, therefore, aims to provide formal and non-formal education, training and skill development to youth for livelihood opportunities.
“The project will make extensive efforts to engage all stakeholders, various government departments, ministries and agencies, community leaders, religious leaders, to strengthen public administration for effective management of education system for better and sustainable performance.”
He said though the conflict has gone on for too long and many lives have been affected, the EU is “committed to continuing to help the more than three million children displaced across the North-east who are currently needing education services, not only for their own sake but the prosperity of the nation as a whole.”
He said, “Nigeria’s future depends on a healthy, well-educated workforce that can innovate and inspire.”
Meanwhile, Governor Babagana Umara, who officially flagged off the project, thanked the EU for the funding.
The governor recalled that the 20 million Euros intervention was not the first coming from the EU.
”Last year, the EU had donated the sum of 160 million Euros towards funding a multi-sectoral project tagged ‘the Borno package”’, he said.
The governor clarified that the funds from the EU ”were not loans but grants given to the government of Borno State”.
“Therefore, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the people and government of Borno State we want to sincerely thank EU for this show of love,” he said.
Mr Umara also appreciated the UNICEF and PLAN-International who are the two implementation partners that will carry out the project in Borno.
He said, unlike in the past, when similar interventions were shrouded in corruption, his administration ”will set up a powerful mechanism that will not only monitor and evaluate but ensure every kobo coming into the state serves the best interest of the people of Borno”.
According to the implementation partners, the N8 billion will be spent on providing educational services to 150,000 displaced children and also enhance the capacity of 2,500 teachers.
An estimated 182 classrooms and 150 latrines will be rebuilt in reclaimed communities, while 944 casual teachers will also be recruited to teach in the schools where virtual-based academic materials and clean drinking water points will be provided.