From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri 

The ratio of one teacher to about 124 pupils in primary schools in the North-East states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe has persisted following years of insurgency in the area, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report has revealed. 

In a recent overview of the education situation in the areas, the UNICEF Maiduguri field office put the average pupil-teacher ratio across the three states at 124 to one, a development described by education experts as worrisome. 

But the global body said the 13 years of violence in the region have exacerbated the already poor education situation in the areas.  

“Since 2009, the armed conflict in northeast Nigeria has affected civilians already living in a precarious condition, undermining poverty reduction and development efforts strained government resources, and depleted community coping capacities,” the report observed. 

Many schools were destroyed and 173 teachers were killed in Borno and Yobe states. Yet, many of the teachers do not have the required qualifications.  

Only 29 per cent of schools have teachers with the minimum qualification, UNICEF chief of Maiduguri field office, Phuong Nguyen, said at a media dialogue on a review of the Global Partnership for Education Accelerated Funding project recently.  The project, she said, was aimed at supporting education in the areas from its present state.

Aside from inadequate number of teachers, the states have inadequate learning materials despite increasing budgetary allocations by the affected states in the last two years. 

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In Borno, only 26 per cent of schools have sufficient learning materials, a lower proportion than Adamawa’s 30 percent.

Yobe has the least among the three with only 25 percent of schools having adequate learning materials according to the UNICEF assessment. 

This situation should be a concern to everyone who understands the pivotal role education plays in the development of any society, said Mr. Lincoln Ajoku, a UNICEF education specialist. 

“Education is the destiny of this country and we have the opportunity to turn things around to improve the education of our children,” he said. 

Borno State Government said it is working to improve the education sector, particularly the primary education, which is the foundation of the sector. 

Executive Chairman, of Borno State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Prof Bulama Kagu said the state has stepped up action to address the situation.

He disclosed that contracts for the supply of learning and teaching materials have been awarded. He assured the board will put more pressure on the contractors to ensure they deliver within the stipulated time.

“The truth is that insurgency has drawn us back so much,” he said.