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A second chance at success for young Nigerian girls

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Conflict-affected youth gain the knowledge and skills to succeed in Nigeria’s Borno state

What was your wish, when you were 25 years old? For Zainab, it was simple: to be able to spell her own name, and help her four oldest children with their homework. Her own parents never believed in education, but after dropping out to become a seamstress in her village, Zainab understands the power of learning.

I regret not going to school earlier, but this is my second chance. I would have loved to be a teacher. I hope to still pursue my dream if I can continue in schools close to my house.
- 25 year-old Zainab

A mother of six, Zainab has been attending the informal learning centre in Kusheri community, Maiduguri in Borno State, for the past three months. Every day, she brings her youngest son, eight-month-old Muhammad, with her.

"We have 12 mothers here, so there are 12 babies,’’ said Rhoda Haruna, one of the teachers deployed to the centre. “But our childminder takes care of the children so that they don’t disturb the mothers while they are learning. Some of the mothers are teenagers and they need to be supported if we want them to concentrate in class. It is a three-hour class, but the students are attentive. They want to learn as quickly as soon as possible," she said.

Zainab's second chance
Copyright UNICEF/2021/Adebayo

Alongside Zainab, more than 100 adolescents and young people who have never been to school, or whose education was cut short by poverty or conflict, are enrolled at the Kusheri learning centre.

19 year old Hadiza Adamu is one of them. Originally from Ngala, Hadiza dropped out of school when she was only 15 years old, when she had to flee with her family to Maiduguri.

Kusheri learning centre
Learning in progress at the centre - Copyright UNICEF/2021/Adebayo

“My father was a carpenter in Ngala and he paid for our education. But when we relocated here in 2015, he started working as a labourer and was not earning as much money as before. I did not enroll in public schools because the classrooms were overcrowded. It would have been a waste of time. That is why I have been out-of-school for four years. I want to go back to school and hopefully become a nurse. That is why I am here,’’ said Bukar.

A childminder tends to learners’ children at the centre

The informal learning centre, built in 2019, is part of a European Union and UNICEF-supported project carried out by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to equip conflict-affected adolescents and young people with the skills needed to support themselves and their families. Today, over 3,800 young people aged 15 to 25 years are benefiting from the project across Nigeria’s conflict-affected north-east state of Borno.

Original story published by UNICEF Nigeria.