2024-03-15 NIGERIA

FMSI’s Visit to the Nigeria Province

During the last week of February 2024, FMSI travelled to Nigeria and engaged with the new Provincial of Nigeria Br. Mark Omede, the Econome Br. Lucky Paul and the delegate for the coordination of education Br. Emmanuel Tyokor. The visit centered on discussions about ongoing projects and potential future collaborations aimed at creating positive impacts in the Province.

FMSI, a Foundation of the General Administration of the Marista Brothers, is at the service of the Institute not only to provide financial support to individual projects but also for the strategic development of solidarity on a global level. It has carried out support activities for Marist communities belonging to Provinces around the world, identifying tools to respond adequately to their needs as a Global family. The aim of initiatives in this field is to enhance the ability to act on behalf of children with more effective actions and more sustainable strategic projects. These initiatives strategically contribute to strengthening the solidarity capacities of the Institute.

In 2023, Nigeria submitted its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the United Nations, emphasizing the necessity for robust policies supporting the right to education, the rights of people with disabilities, and combating child abuse and exploitation. FMSI introduced a novel monitoring tool designed to gauge the impact of these advocacy and policy-making initiatives, ensuring a thorough assessment of these efforts.

A significant highlight of FMSI’s visit was the Hopeville and Nike Centre run by the Marist Brother of Nigeria, both dedicated to welcoming children and young people with disabilities. Financed by Misean Cara, these projects focus on equipping beneficiaries with essential skills and competencies, fostering their independence in the future. The emphasis on vocational training in these centres is noteworthy, and what sets it apart is that the trainers themselves are young people with disabilities, serving as beacons of hope for the young participants.

The Hopeville and Nike Centre projects extend their reach beyond their primary focus, opening their doors to the surrounding population. This inclusivity not only supports young people living in economically vulnerable conditions but also breaks down societal barriers. By providing education and skills training, these centres actively contribute to reducing discrimination against young students with disabilities who are often marginalized in Nigerian society.

Furthermore, FMSI visited the Marist Comprehensive Academy and the Marist Brothers Juniorate in Uturu, along with the Sacred Heart Marist College in Ejule (Kogi State), which were showcased as exemplary educational institutions committed to equal access to quality education, making a positive impact for children and the communities around.

FMSI extended its visit to Ezzagu, a rural area in Ebonyi State of central Nigeria, where they explored nursery, primary, and secondary schools: these institutions are providing education to children and young people in traditionally disadvantaged areas where Brothers are tackling the obstacles affecting the overall quality of education and hinder students’ prospects for a better future.

One out of every five out-of-school children globally resides in Nigeria, highlighting a significant challenge to equitable access to quality education. Despite the official mandate of free and compulsory primary education, approximately 10.5 million Nigerian children aged 5-14 are not enrolled in schools. Only 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds consistently attend primary school, and merely 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months have access to early childhood education.

During their visit, FMSI had the opportunity to witness the dedicated initiatives of the Marist Brothers in Nigeria. Actively engaged in the community, the Marist Brothers focus on serving children living in vulnerable conditions, working diligently to ensure these children have access to a high-quality education. The Brothers’ mission advocates for prioritizing education and specifically targets children who are least likely to receive it. The anticipated outcome of the mission is to ensure that all children can access and complete quality education within a safe learning environment, acquiring the skills and knowledge for lifelong learning.

This goal will be achieved by fostering an enabling environment for inclusive education, enhancing the quality of education, and initiatives on advocacy and child rights.

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