From Judex Okoro, Calabar
In its commitment to improve upon the educational needs of pupils, a non-governmental organisation, Children of Rural Africa (CORAfrica), has acquired 50 plots of land and donated a bus to St. Peter’s Primary School, Adagom, for use by refugees and the host community’s children.
CORAfrica has been involved in emancipating rural children and promoting inclusion and equitable learning opportunities for all.
The organisation has also been partnering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to improve access to education for refugees’ children, in line with the global compact for refugees on education.
Speaking during the presentation of the bus at the school premises, the founder/chief strategist of CORAfrica, Rev. Fr. Peter Obele Abue, said he was moved by the long distance trekked by the pupils and the desire to provide the needed support to aid effective and conducive learning environment for them.
And in complimenting the efforts of UNHCR, Abue said they had rented a structure and commenced the basic training of these children since last year, disclosing that the school currently has a population of 500 pupils, comprising of 464 refugees and 36 host community children.
He said: “We are committed to ensure standard in providing for the educational needs of the pupils. In addition to payment of staff stipends, we also provide snacks periodically for our pupils as a way of encouraging and stabilising the children to enable them pay attention to the lessons.
“In response to the rapid and increasing growing population, CORAfrica has acquired 50 plots of land in Adagom 3 in Ogoja, less than 100 metres away from our temporary site.
“Work has begun with over 30 trips of sand, 15 trips of gravel and 600 bags of cement for the construction of an ultra-modern 8 classroom block in the new site. God willing, by January 2023 a more conducive learning environment will be available for the pupils.”
Commending UNHCR Head of Ogoja sub-office, for being part of the historic event, Fr. Abue called for more partnership to ensure that this kind of programme aligned with UNHCR mandate.
Speaking on behalf of Adagom community, Chief Stephen Mankong said: “For us in the community, we are glad to be part of this occasion. Since the coming of refugees to Adagom, this is the first major private donation to the refugees and the host community people.
“It is my desire that UNHCR partner with CORAfrica in changing the educational misfortune of these refugees and host community people.”
On his part, the director-general, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Princewill Ayim, represented by the programme manager, Mr. Hillary Agida, commended Fr. Abue for his passion for the vulnerable, adding that that Abue had also founded the orphanage in Mbube, where many orphans have graduated into very meaningful persons in society.
He called on UNHCR to partner with CORAfrica so that they could do even better for the refugees’ welfare.
Also speaking at the event, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Mr. Andy Ubong, averred that “We are here to say thank you CORAfrica for the assistance given to the government of Nigeria to assist the refugees. We are ready to collaborate with you any time”
Responding, the UNHCR head of Ogoja sub-office, Mr. Tesfaye Bekele, who was represented by Mr. Jonathan Derko, stated that: “UNHCR in Ogoja has heard a lot about CORAfrica just as the country representative has a very soft spot for children.”
According to him, an investment in children is investing in the future, noting that “UNHCR looks forward to strengthening partnership with CORAfrica.”