by Olatunji Saliu
ABUJA, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno has completed the construction of 45 mega-schools to cater for the free education of children orphaned by the militancy of Boko Haram.
An official statement reaching Xinhua in Abuja on Thursday said the construction is part of a deliberate policy to enhance access to quality education for orphans and out-of-school children in the state.
Borno is the birthplace of the Boko Haram terror group responsible for the killing of some 20,000 people, displacing millions of others, and posing enormous security, humanitarian and governance challenges in the most populous African country.
Over 53,000 children were orphaned and 50,000 women widowed through the nefarious activities of Boko Haram in Borno since 2009, the government's data showed.
The new mega-schools were built in the 27 local government areas in the state, with e-learning devices, power generators, modern educational accessories, and air condition systems. Pupils will be enrolled from all the local government areas.
The initiative includes 42 primary and junior secondary schools and 13 more educational structures in the mega schooling concept, to ensure a wider outreach. The government has embarked on a campaign to encourage the out-of-school children to return to school.
State commissioner for education Inuwa Kubo said, among other provisions made to create an enabling learning environment for the beneficiaries, free daily meals, uniforms, and instructional materials are included the mega-schools initiative.
At least 1,000 teachers have been recruited so far to ensure the provision of quality services and sustainability of the government's initiative, Kubo said, adding there's a plan to hire more teachers for the mega-schools.
The construction of the mega-schools came into fruition three years after the government mooted the idea. The initiative became necessary as the large population of children orphaned by the Boko Haram militancy stared the government in the face.
It is seen as one of the most horrendous realities of Boko Haram's attacks ever witnessed in the state, according to local journalist Dauda Suleiman.
Not sparing anyone in their attacks, the militants, with very huge disregard for Western education, had nearly crumbled virtually all academic institutions in Borno.
Among many other implications, many children were thrown out of school by the incessant attacks.
"The gravest implication of this situation was that the children that escaped the attacks were thrown out of school, which further implied that their abandonment in psychosocial trauma would breed them into a large army of future Boko Haram insurgents since they had been thrown out of Western education," said Borno-based local journalist Uthman Abubakar.
Boko Haram literally means "Western education is a taboo" in the local Hausa language spoken in several African countries.
The government is making very stern efforts to stamp out the Boko Haram's militancy through military might. It is noteworthy that the terrorists would suffer the most crushing defeat when most of the children, who are being denied access to education through attacks, begin to excel in their academics and begin to fulfill their aspirations in life.
"The government's initiative of equipping the schools with state-of-the-art teaching and learning aids aims at making formal education very attractive with the best quality of learning, so as to lay a solid foundation for the pupils to prosper in future educational attainments," said Yusuf Shettima, a state official in charge of the Borno mega-schools project.