Schools in Nigeria bring hope

What is common with five of the Sharia states in northern Nigeria? Apart from severe hostility to Christians living there, the states of Katsina, Kano, Bauchi, Zamfara and Kaduna have Christian schools established which Open Doors has helped to build or renovate.

As children in many parts of the world start their new academic year, these Open Doors sponsored schools provide quality education to thousands of students living in some very difficult and oppressive circumstances.

Why support schools?

When Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 mostly Christian students from the girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno Sate in April 2014, there was global outrage. In addition to concern over the welfare of those kidnapped girls, protestors were fuming over the audacity of the insurgents to deny those female students the right to an education.

The reality, particularly in the northern sharia governed states, is that local governments and communities leave little freedom for Christians to live out their faith. Christian communities are often excluded from basic social services like schools, clinics and boreholes as the government allocates funds to Muslim villages.

Christian children face blatant discrimination in state schools. In some states, Islamic education is included in the school curriculum.  For many parents this price is simply too high and they choose to keep their children home rather than send them to a school where they would face constant pressure to become Muslim.

What does our support entail?

Open Doors was in touch with one of the Christian communities in these northern Sharia states, and came to know of the desperate need of the community to set up a Christian school. The government had provided them with a building many years ago, but it had fallen into disrepair and was in need of renovation. But the authorities had no intention of helping them. After our visit, we offered to help them put up three new blocks of classrooms, a library and a dormitory for female students. We also sank a borehole.

Today this school provides quality education to 445 students. Sixty girls, stay in the hostel. This school is one of 16 schools Open Doors has helped renovate or build from scratch since 2005: Five schools in Katsina State, five schools in Kano State, four schools in Bauchi State and one school each in Zamfara and Kaduna States. Depending of the situation in each community we help with construction and furnishing of classrooms, laboratories, ablutions, offices, dormitories, and libraries. In some cases we also provide boreholes. In addition we provide textbooks and stock libraries. We also provide worldview training for teachers and management training for administrative staff.

Schools have to stay closely involved in each construction project and take responsibility for things like purchasing land and negotiating with the local government about permits etc. We do not ever get involved in operational aspects and the schools normally charge school fees to cover operational expenses. But our support enables them to charge much less.

The schools is not a fancy place by most standards, but the resources the students have access to here are worth their weight in gold.

The statement by Rev Ayuba Haruna, who thanked Open Doors on behalf of the entire Christian community is a sample of the deep gratitude beneficiaries have for the work: “Thank you for coming to our aid when we had lost all hope of receiving help from the state government who has been denying us all kinds of social amenities. We felt that education was the only thing we really could give our children. Indeed, God answered the prayers of His children through Open Doors in different and sometimes unexpected ways.  We want to thank those who have given their resources to help us. May God bless you richly! Words cannot describe the joy and gratitude we feel in our hearts.”