In December 2015, while teaming up with Fantsuam Foundation, Joyce Elemson, UKAPES co-founder organised a workshop session for teachers who were internally displaced from the North Eastern parts of Nigeria following the Boko Haram insurgency. These teachers were safely absorbed by host communities in Kaduna state, a North Central state where they were quickly absorbed back into normalcy, to their professions and offered accommodation.
A report of the session was posted as a blog article in January 2016 on Planet Earth Institute’s web site, an organisation which has sadly closed operations. Below is a copy of the article:
Due to the insurgency in Northeastern Nigeria, many people have become internally displaced into different communities. While some have enjoyed the relative safety of a refugee camp, others have had to move into safe communities to continue with their lives and livelihood. Children of an internally displaced status have had their education disrupted just as teachers have also needed to seek employment in safe schools while living with the traumatic effects of a violent past. It is with this backdrop that a selected group of internally displaced teachers and children were invited for a programme to re-engage with their new communities and be offered support to be rehabilitated back into their teaching profession.
In collaboration with Fantsuam Foundation, an NGO working for the holistic development of underserved communities in Kaduna state, I delivered a sensitively planned CPD session on Modern Pedagogical Strategies to 35 teachers, 25 of whom were invited to a government primary school in Kaura, Kaduna State. FF CEO, John Dada had taken the opportunity to invite the Education Commissioner who was represented by the Zonal Director to witness the event. Fifty children of an internally displaced status were also invited from 9 communities including Ungwar Gata, Ungwar Kura, Akuku and Ungwar Sankwai from Moroa chiefdom Ungwa Ashe, Tangang, Telak, Sangang, and Zilan from Attakar chiefdom, to be presented with donated gifts from both ICEHA a US based organization working to create peace and prosperity among disadvantaged children and myself. Donated items include textbooks, writing materials, clothes, toiletries and school bags.
Despite organisational efforts to meet the needs of internally displaced people which number into millions in Nigeria, children’s disrupted education is of low priority to the federal government. Security, aid and defence against the terrorist activities supersede the basic right of child to a good education. It is within this context that the United Nations is working with the Nigerian government to make schools safer, train teachers and offer basic education to children in camps and with host families, where nine in 10 of Nigeria’s 2.2 million internally displaced people are living.
As a complement to these efforts are those of NGOs that offer community development services in health, social care, agricultural development, entrepreneurship and education among others. A collaboration between Fantsuam Foundation and me in the capacity as a UK based teacher with strong interests in CPD, initiated the project to professionally develop teachers of internally displaced status. Latest figures show that 10,542,105 children are out school while 600 teachers have been killed by attacks, leaving 19,000 teachers displaced by Boko Haram in Nigeria. These teachers have suffered heavy losses including their livelihoods. Some of these internally displaced teachers continue to live in the refugee camps without the will to teach because of the inherent and deplorable living conditions. Through the timely intervention of community groups and private organisations, the teachers have been advised to utilise their skills as a resource in the recovery of education of internally displaced children. This is part of several schemes to provide psychosocial support and rehabilitation programmes for victims of the insurgency.
Fantsuam Foundation in its bid to offer some support, engaged with the local government officers to deliver a sensitively planned CPD session for internally displaced teachers scattered all over Southern Kaduna. Due to limited funds, a small number of teachers were invited to a small scale session in which they were strongly encouraged to forge ahead and utilise the opportunity to develop their pedagogic practice. Teachers were taken through the basics of CPD including the need for them to “Know Their Learners”, to identify symptoms of common learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, ADHD and the integration of ICT. They were informed that CPD is a mandatory requirement for all teachers’ career development, and when fully implemented, teachers will regain their professional confidence and earn the respect of their communities and employers. Each school is expected to have a CPD coordinator who will report regularly to State Universal Basic Education Board to ensure that all teachers fulfil their CPD requirements as a pre-condition for their career progress. The expectation is that SUBEB – State Universal Basic Education Board and Kaduna State Government will incorporate Continuing Professional Development into the academic calendar for teachers so that they can regularly be supported and updated in their pedagogical practice. CPD will also ensure that the Kaduna State Government’s Educational Emergency strategy is fully sustained by an informed teacher population. Teachers are expected to be rejuvenated and energised professionally in their role to further revive the communities and importantly support the growing young population. It is indeed anticipated that such events in the face of attacks serve to develop resilience and strengthen communal bonds for the future. These bold steps taken in the midst of security risks on the outskirts of Kaduna state constitute a significant turning point in the intervention for teachers and indeed vulnerable members of the community.
A premier of its kind, it has come to the attention of the state government but with several bureaucracies and different government priorities, the objective is to privately seek funding in the continuation of the collaboration to expand the project to include thousands of teachers across the affected states in Northern Nigeria and create opportunities not just for the teachers but also the recovery of education for the internally displaced child.
The event was attended by members of the local media, who posted online reports receiving very strong positive feedback both from the teachers who felt empowered and also community leaders and government officials.