From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

Over 13,000 children forced out of schools by the decade-long insurgency in northeast Borno State have returned to continue their education through a European Union support for early recovery and resilience project.

The EU-backed €10 million Euros (about N4.4 billion) programme implemented by a consortium of international humanitarian organisations was aimed at helping children whose education was obstructed, have another chance at learning, Country Director Plan International Nigeria, Mr Charles Usie, disclosed at the closeout ceremony of the project Tuesday in Maiduguri.

“More than 13,000 children and youths who had lost some years of learning, benefited from accelerated learning, while 12,000 young people benefited from life-skills training, and 3,010 received employability and business training,’ he disclosed.

Plan International led other consortiums in the implementation of the project.

Usie said many of the children were as young as seven or less when they fled their communities with their parents or guardians to IDP camps in Maiduguri, the state capital.

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He said they have stayed for years in the camps without access to learning. He said the programme was designed to help these children return to school through an accelerated 0 learning process while the youths were given skills to build their resilience and economic recovery after 12 years of violence.

He explained the project included the development of school facilities including rehabilitation and furnishing of 182 classrooms, installation of 82 water points and construction of 550 latrine cubicles in schools to encourage learning and improve learning conditions.

EU country representative in Nigeria, Amb Samuela Isop said the project is support response, recovery and resilience. Represented by the Team Lead EU coordination programme for Borno, Kabiru Abbas, Amb Isop said the EU was concerned about the future of children in conflict-affected northeast states.

The three years of EU support was launched in 2019 covering nine local governments in Borno mostly affected by the violence.

An estimated 645 teachers were killed in the insurgency, 19,000 teachers displaced and 1,500 properties damaged or destroyed in the northeast according to a report by UNICEF.