The future of every society is in the quality of the youth that is being developed today. The extent of the development is a function of the quality of education and training they are receiving currently. A simple observation of the current status and academic performance of the Children from the Northeast Nigeria and especially Southern Borno and Northern Adamawa States cast a pathetic gloom on the future of the communities that constitute the region.This is because the entire youth of foundational school age (i.e. 6 to 18 years) are not receiving anything close to the minimum educational training to secure the future of the societies in this region.
Two phenomena have been identified as major contributors to this unfortunate calamity that has befallen western education in this region:
1. Falling standard of education propelled by
a. Retrogressive educational decisions and actions, arising from inconsistent and contradictory educational policies that have eroded the foundation of an effective learning environment.
b. The prolonged systematic decline in the quality of education has produced teachers who themselves are neither adequately educated nor committed to hard work and excellence.
c. The frequent prolonged closure of schools arising from teachers’ strikes and other crises even before the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency has deprived the children from any meaningful learning.
2. The outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009 finally gave the deadly blow to the little that was left of education in the region. Schools in Borno State have remained closed since 2013 with most of the children in stop-gap camps across different parts of the country as internally displaced persons.This has completely truncated the educational pursuit of most pupils from this region.
Educationally, the early activities of European and American missionaries in this region provided opportunities for students to obtain very high level, qualitative education. As a result, the region has produced many university professors, military generals, successful businessmen and women. However, systematic, retrogressive policies in Northern Nigeria, sustained especially by successive regimes in Borno State over the past 30 resulted in a total collapse of educational standards. The famous schools that produced high caliber personnel have become only shadows of their past, leading to mass failure amongst primary and secondary school students. This in turn has led to high unemployment rates and a ready-made market for political thugs and terrorists groups. Even after completing secondary school education, the quality of education of students remain abysmally poor, with many students lacking basic reading and writing skills. Most worrisome is the critical situation of girls who are now being discouraged from pursuit of higher education and instead pushed into early marriage. A large number of young mothers in the North-East are uneducated and therefore do not value the importance of a good education thus sustaining the cycle and generations of uneducated children.
In terms of social leadership and governance, the region has experienced an unfairly low political representation. This stems from the relatively few Local Government Areas (LGA) created in this region by the various military regimes which has favored less densely populated areas. It worth is noting that the number of LGAs determines how much national resources and political representation an area can have. For example, the political structure has made it virtually impossible for any person from Southern Borno to win the governorship election. Psychologically, over the years therefore, the people of this region have resigned themselves to being second class citizens and compelled to be content with peaceful coexistence. Now, even that peaceful coexistence has become impossible to attain as the people of the region have been forced out of their lands by the Islamist terrorist group commonly referred as Boko Haram. They are now scattered as refugees in their own country across many States and across borders into other Countries.
The climax of the disdain for Western Education especially for girls was demonstrated in April 2014 when the final year students of most of the schools in Southern Borno were recalled just to come and sit for their Senior Secondary School exams. On the night of April 14-14, 2014 a total of 276 school girls were abducted by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School Chibok, out of which only 57 escaped.
The Chibok girls’ abduction is only the tip of the iceberg on the overall destruction of education by Boko Haram in the region. For example, immediately after the abduction of the Chibok girls, most schools conducting the Senior Secondary School final exams in neighboring LGAs were closed down and exams abandoned half way. These students are part of the internally displaced persons from the North-East with some of them having lost their parents and guardians during the recent takeover of several towns by Boko Haram.
There is therefore an urgent need to relocate these students to safe locations so they can continue their education and thus stem the tide of decreasing human capital development in the region. Effort must therefore be directed to ensure that education continues for these unfortunate kids scattered in refugee camps as well as homes across some parts of the country. Most energy of humanitarian groups is focus on food, clothing and shelter.
The Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI) was founded to contribute to the critical need of continuous education for the deprived and vulnerable victims of terrorism and poor educational policies. Through the objectives of EMCI, the neediest children will be identified (across regions hosting internally displaced persons) and enrolled into homeschools and study centers. These establishments will prepare them to obtain basic Mathematics, English, Reading and Comprehension skills and thus equip them for integration into a normal school system when opportunities become available.
1. Acquiring land and properties that shall be used to advance its mission and vision
2. Establishing facilities and structures that will be used to provide basic educational training at primary and secondary school levels
3. Facilitate the placement and relocation of vulnerable children to safe school environments
4. Advocate for and promote social justice, economic equality and right to basic education for all children as provided for in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
5. Seek platforms for the advancement of our objectives, including obtaining and disseminating information/sharing knowledge and creation of awareness about the necessity to ensure that basic and quality education must be given to all children
6. Solicit for and raise funds for the advancement of the goals and objectives of the foundation
7. Undertake all other necessary activities leading to the provision of sound educational foundation for the neediest and deprived children from target regions.
Three main strategies have been identified to pursue the mission of the organization. These strategies are:
Homeschools and study centers aimed at bridging the major academic deficiencies observed among primary & secondary school students, as well as school leavers.
School placement strategy shall work to identify suitable schools to partner with for the placement of beneficiaries. Such placements will enable the candidates to be well prepared to take or retake their SSCE/NECO examinations so as to qualify them for admissions into tertiary institutions. We shall seek to partnership with Government support programs for IDPs and Network with NGOs who are undertaking similar humanitarian activities aimed at promoting education among the underprivileged and deprived population.
To facilitate the setting up of good community owned and managed schools so that the communities become active stake holders in delivery of qualitative education to their children.