Emanuel had been a student at the College of Education in Hong, Nigeria, studying to be a teacher of finance and architecture. He is also an artist of sorts, who paints, draws, and dabbles in sculpture work. Last January, when Boko Haram came and attacked various homes and institutions in the city, the school closed down, and he came to Jos with his father. His mother, who is a Christian religious instructor with children, remained in Mubi and will resume her teaching when her school reopens.
Since there is no teachers college here in Jos, Emanuel’s education, like that of many youth in northeastern Nigeria, has been interrupted. While in Jos, he tried to find odd jobs around EYN headquarters so he could make money to be able to resume his studies when the teachers college reopens in Mubi. Because of the influx of so many people into central Nigeria, displaced by violence, however, jobs, even for experienced adults, are hard to find.
In early May, Emanuel returned to Mubi, hoping that the college will open soon. It continues to be closed because administrators are afraid that Boko Haram will return and again attack. The last I heard (June 1) he was still living in his parent’s home in Mubi waiting for the college to open. In the meantime, he feels as though his life is “on hold.”
Thousands of primary and secondary school students have been out of school up to a year. Several small NGOs have been working to restart education for children displaced from their home communities, but until the areas of the country, ravaged by Boko Haram, are deemed more stable and free from possible attack, most of the schools will remain closed. This, and the plight of university students, like Emanuel, adds to challenges from which Nigeria, as a whole, is reeling.
By Peggy Faw Gish, 8 June, 2015
Peggy’s latest book is Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation, Cascade Books, 2013