In their quest to restore hope, confidence and rekindle interest in especially the girl child education among the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) communities and the North-East in general, the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and Adopt-A-Camp have formally launched the Promoting Safety and Security for Girl Education (PSSGE) Project in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital. The three organizations are implementing a MacArthur Foundation’s supported project in the insurgency ravaged region with a view to generating and sustaining girls enrolment in schools as well as advocating for safety and security of the school-going girls in order to motivate them acquire education which is capable of making their future great and developing the region.
Prior to the field launch of the project, the three partners have conducted a baseline survey, mapping of IDPs and developed a communication strategy to ease proper implementation of the project. Ahead of the official flag off of the project, the partners again identified relevant and crucial stakeholders such as Secretary to Yobe state Government, Commissioners of Education and Women Affairs and Social Development and paid advocacy visits to them to solicit their commitment and support towards the project. A similar advocacy visit was also paid to His Royal Highness Alhaji Hashimi Ibn El-Kanemi II, the emir of Damaturu who equally showered his blessings to the project and warmly indicated interest in giving it all the necessary support.
In her opening remarks, the Secretary General of WRAPA, Hajiya Saudatu Mahdi noted that Yobe was chosen to be the flagging off state based on some reasons: the perceived willingness of the state to work in line with the project’s aim of promoting safety and security for girl child education and the Yobe is considered to be a relatively safe environment. Emphasizing the need to educate girls, Saudatu cautions “if we do not make a deliberate decision to ensure that the girls who are out of school either due to the insurgency or other reasons re-enroll, then there is a problem, we seek to reconstruct the North-East and we cannot reconstruct the region without the human capital, and the human capital of the North-East right now is women and girls”, she added that another way to encourage girl education is to make her feel she is secured, that the aunty, the teacher is there support them, the walls of the schools have been built in such a way that nobody can enter and attack them and when the teacher or somebody abuses them the system is there to protect them. Hajiya Saudatu concludes her remarks by saying the campaign is about self reflection, for our persons and for our region enjoining the participants to take down the message across.
In their different goodwill messages, Yobe State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and representative of the state Commissioner of Police all pledged their support and commitment towards ensuring safety and security of the girl education in the state, in particular the NSCDC Commandant Mr. Tayo Alayo said he has already given an order to his staff to carry out a survey of all the schools in the insurgency prone areas so that right security will be provided. Also in their separate goodwill messages, former Head of Service Alhaji Dauda Yahaya who represented former Deputy Governor Alhaji Aliyu Sale Bagayo, Chief Imam of Damaturu, Ustaz Kuru Muhammad, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Yobe state chapter, Reverend Jibrin Joshua, Chairpersons of FOMWAN and Da’awa Committee all pledged their support for girls education as well as their safety and security with enlightenment and promotion of the project in their respective domains.
Launching the project, the Commissioner of Education Alhaji Muhammed Lamin pointed out Yobe state’s commitment and emphasis on girl child education saying in Yobe education for girls and boys in free from primary up to university level, “girl child education is guaranteed in Yobe, we have about seven or eight purely girls secondary schools, two of them are science girls secondary schools, we encourage girl child to read in all our schools, based on the recent findings by an NGO, the number of girls in schools in Yobe state is more than the number of boys, that shows our commitment to girl child education, when the insurgency was at it’s peak and we realized the insurgents want to destroy our education system, therefore we moved all the schools in the two most affected local governments to a much more safer zone to ensure that the children were protected, when we also realized Boko Haram were using girls as bombers, we banned the use of Hijabs in our schools so that no girl carry a bomb, pretends to be a students and detonates it”.
Giving a closing remark on behalf of the launching organizations, the Executive Director of Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Dr. Yunusa Zakari Ya’u began with a flashback on the necessity of girl child education emphasizing that everyone has a stake in education and safety and security of girl education, and can as well positively make vital inputs towards ensuring the success of the project so that in the coming years the region will transform from a laughing base to an educationally prosperous region. YZ maintained that “our visit to commissioner of education’s office revealed that the state is determined and committed to actively support girls education and their safety and security, we appreciate this commitment, but we will cherish and appreciate the commitment the more if the messages we brought are taken, circulated and publicized in all communities in Yobe state, doing that will open other doors of interventions from other donors in order to improve the education sector not only in Yobe state but in the whole region”. The launching was attended by government officials, principals and school teachers, students, traditional and religious leaders, civil society organizations, security agencies, the media etc.