UNICEF launches radio programme to educate children displaced by Boko Haram

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has initiated a radio education programme in the Lake Chad basin as part of efforts to support the 1.3 million children displaced by the activities of Boko Haram.

The 144 episodes of educational programming on literacy and numeracy, life-saving and other child protection messages will be broadcast in French and three local languages-Kanuri, Fulfulde and Hausa.

Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa, said, “This crisis has unique challenges, so we are developing unique solutions.

“With many hundreds of schools still closed, and children exposed to numerous risks, we developed a radio education regional prototype that will keep children in a positive education routine.

“This is the first step, and the Governments have pro-actively engaged to make this available for children in this crisis.

“Being on air with a program ‘validated’ by the Government is the first important step for the continuation of learning in emergencies and the protection of children who are not in school.

“In the very near future, we hope that children who learn by radio will also receive a certification and pass the school year.”

The UN agency said the radio programmes have the potential to reach children in areas that remain inaccessible for humanitarian assistance and other out-of-school children.

Yvan Hildebrand, head, EU civil protection and humanitarian aid (ECHO) in Cameroon, said “radio education helps us reach the children who are out of school as a result of the conflict.

“We’ve worked with UNICEF to develop a high quality interim solution that will help hundreds of thousands children engage in an educational routine.

“We are very proud of the positive role the EU is playing in this crisis and I am sure that all Europeans can see the value of this investment in children.”

Beyond radio programming, education in emergencies will reach 159,000 children with a range of support including child protection services and risk informed learning programmes adapted for the needs of children living in crisis affected areas in Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria.

UNICEF has called for $38.5 million to meet the education needs of children in the crisis and this appeal has received $19.6 million, just 50 per cent of the amount required.