Fr. Remigius said that the Education in Emergency Program for IDPs was started last year with a call for entry exams in which over 900 students from IDP families qualified to join year 1 of Senior Secondary education.
Because of the Diocese’s meager resources, only 50 students including 29 males and 21 female students were selected and placed in top Catholic Schools in the country. A year later. The Diocese has selected 50 other students, this time 21 male students and 29 female students who will be enrolled in schools in September.
The scholarship, which the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi provides covers the students’ tuition fees, school uniforms, food, healthcare and transport.
Fr. Remigius told ACI Africa that the students in the education program are allowed very little time in the camps while on holiday. Instead, the students proceed to a skills-acquisition center every time they break from school. At the center, the students learn dressmaking, photography, computer, shoe-making, and other skills aimed at preparing them for life after school.
Stephen Iveren Agatha, a beneficiary of the education program who lived with her family in Daudu I IDP camp in Makurdi before resuming her studies appreciated the generosity of Bishop Chikpa, noting that she had undergone difficult experiences at the camp before getting her way out of it.
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“Back then when I was in the camp with my family, we had nothing. Feeding was a problem and we did not have a place to sleep. Could you imagine a family sleeping in one room? We were not able to find a place to farm as a result of our displacement; we were based in the camp but we believed that no condition is permanent and no one knows the branch of a tree that will produce the biggest fruit,” Agatha said in a note she shared with ACI Africa
Now a student at Our Lady of Mount Carmel College, Agatha says that her selection into the program has restored her family’s hope for a brighter future.
“When the scholarship came and I was selected among the students who would be benefitting from the program, I was very happy. My parents are very proud of me and they hope I will bring back happiness for our family and they are trying their best for me to achieve my goal in school,” she said.
Agatha added, “We now have a place in the host community so the accommodation is better than it was because of my parents.”
One of the challenges that the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi is facing in implementing the education program is the scarcity of resources.
“We would like to do more for these children but we are so limited in our resources. More than 900 students in IDP camps have demonstrated their need for this program but we could only take 50 in the first cohort,” Fr. Remigius told ACI Africa August 6.
He added, “We are therefore calling for help in order to reach as many needy students as possible.”
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.