200,000 children get lessons by radio in conflict-hit Lake Chad region

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The radio syllabus is providing lessons on literacy and numeracy (UNICEF)

Barriers to education, Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people, Right to education, Teachers and learning

Children displaced and out of school because of Boko Haram activities in Cameroon and Niger are being taught remotely.

Denied an education by the Islamist insurgency of militant group Boko Haram, tens of thousands of children across the Lake Chad region are instead tuning into lessons broadcast over the radio.

The radio syllabus is providing lessons on literacy and numeracy, and staying safe amid the violence, to about 200,000 displaced and out-of-school children in the Far North region of Cameroon and Niger’s southern Diffa region, according to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF.

“The level of boredom among children in camps for the displaced is tremendous,” said UNICEF spokesman Patrick Rose.

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Children are being taught how to stay safe amid violence (UNICEF)

“With this radio education programme, children will receive lessons in a structured way, that keeps them in a rhythm … so that when they go back to school they won’t be so far behind,” Rose told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Dakar.

Boko Haram, whose name loosely means ‘Western education is sinful’, has killed more than 600 teachers and forced over 1200 schools to close during its eight-year insurgency in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, according to the UN agency.

Three years ago, the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by the jihadist group in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria sparked global outrage a celebrity-backed campaign #BringBackOurGirls.

The project – backed by the European Union and governments of Cameroon and Niger – is engaging community leaders to share available radios and bring children together for the lessons.

About 150 lessons are being broadcast in both French and the local languages of Kanouri, Fulfulde and Hausa, UNICEF said.

“In the very near future, we hope that children who learn by radio will also receive a certification and pass the school year,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s regional director.

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Tens of thousands of children are tuning into lessons over the radio (UNICEF)

Beyond radio broadcasts, school teachers across the region have been trained by UNICEF to identify and respond to security threats to protect children from Boko Haram, and to provide traumatised children with psychological support.

Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and some 2.7 million people have been uprooted from their homes since 2009 as a result of the group’s attempt to create an Islamic state.

The militants have been driven out of most of the territory they held in early 2015, yet continue to carry out bombings and raids in northeast Nigeria, as well as in Cameroon and Niger.

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