USAID-Supported ‘Learning Centers’ Bring Education To 80,000 Conflict-Affected Learners in Northeast

Abuja – Since 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided a peaceful environment for basic education and psycho-social support to more than 80,000 out-of-school youth in five conflict-affected states in northeast Nigeria.  Many of these children and youth, particularly girls and the physically challenged, have been traumatized by violence and are unable to access mainstream education.

Through the Education Crisis Response (ECR) activity, USAID in conjunction with state governments and civil society organizations established more than 1,400 non-formal learning centers, which focus on teaching literacy and basic math, and provided socio-emotional learning activities to counter the negative effects of violent extremism, strengthen participants’ resilience, and build trust.  More than 800 instructors, known as learning facilitators, were trained to staff the centers.

The three-year, $24.7 million activity led by Creative Associates was implemented through a collaborative effort involving  USAID,  state governments and civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders, community coalitions, International Rescue Committee, Florida State University, the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All, and the Federation of Muslim Women Society in Nigeria.

Closing ceremonies, which took place on January 11 and 17 in Bauchi and Maiduguri, respectively, provided an opportunity for government officials and community members to celebrate the program’s accomplishments.  ECR officially closed on January 26, 2018.

“The Education Crisis Response activity helped to answer widespread demand for quality secular, primary education in northeast Nigeria,” USAID Mission Director Stephen M. Haykin said.   “USAID will maintain its commitment to marginalized children and youth in the northeast and looks forward to continuing our partnership with Nigeria to strengthen education across the country.”

For some 22,000 older learners, the nine-month basic education curriculum was complemented by market-oriented vocational skills that helped participants generate income for their families.  Additional special Adolescent Girl Centers help teenage girls heal, learn, and gain valuable life skills.  Other centers were developed specifically for younger girls and boys.

Through the ECR activity, more than 11,000 teachers in the formal sector received training on socio-emotional learning and enhanced basic education instructional techniques, which increased their ability to cope with trauma and enabled them to support displaced learners who moved into mainstream classes.   An initial assessment showed more than nine out of 10 teachers had experienced trauma themselves as a result of the conflict.

“I am enjoying school now” said Lillian, a 14-year old graduate of a learning center in Bauchi.  “When I attended previous schools, there was no peace.  Now we can give our full attention to the class.  We can concentrate and understand what is being taught.  I will study hard, and hope someday to achieve my ambition of becoming a nurse.”

Over the life of ECR, USAID engaged 56 civil society organizations as sub-grantees, boosting their capacity to conduct future education interventions that builds upon the activity’s community-driven, cost-effective approach.  A sustainability plan developed with local government officials will help ensure the success of the Education Crisis Response activity can be duplicated and expanded in the future.