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We can teach students in unsafe regions using technology, Ensign assures

By Kehinde Olatunji
28 October 2021   |   2:05 am
President, American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Dr. Margee Ensign, has frowned at the continuous closure of schools in some parts of the country due to insecurity, saying instead, learning institutions should be protected.

Margee Ensign

• Schools should be protected, not closed

President, American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Dr. Margee Ensign, has frowned at the continuous closure of schools in some parts of the country due to insecurity, saying instead, learning institutions should be protected.
   
She also lamented increased number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, calling on government to deploy technology in tackling the menace.

Speaking with journalists in Lagos, Ensign, who was recently reappointed as President of the institution, expressed concern over the rate of insecurity and kidnapping of school children in some parts of the country, which has led to closure of schools.

  
She said the situation is completely unacceptable, adding that from the experience of some of the released Chibok girls currently studying at the university, she knows the impact of kidnapping on children.  

Ensign added that since many students no longer feel safe to return to school, the country should resort to technology to educate out-of-school children who are on the increase because of the country’s rapid population growth.

She said during her first tenure (2010 to 2017), when insurgency was at its peak, the institution, with the support of the United States government, started a project known as Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA), where students and faculty members developed radio programmes and applications for laptops, which were used to educate about 22,000 children in Yola. She said the intervention led to improvement in reading and mathematics scores.
  
“You can educate kids anywhere because of technology and for me, that is the solution to all these educational problems in Nigeria,” Ensign added.
  
Citing the progress made by some of the released Chibok girls that were awarded scholarship by the institution, one of whom recently bagged a degree in accounting, Ensign stated that education changes whatever a child has been through.
  
In addition, she also announced plans to establish a public health programme in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to address issues of maternal mortality and other public health issues in northeast.
   
She said the university would also expand its works in communities; region and country through Atiku Institute of International Development, while also considering more courses like medicine and build a hospital in the long run.

  
Speaking on the issue of sexual harassment and other unethical practices in the sector, Ensign said the university has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, bullying, intimidation, extortion and sex for grades, saying it is part of the safeguard initiative where anyone can report anonymously.
  
She added that the institution also organises a ceremony where students, faculty and staff would pledge to honesty, integrity and service, after which each publicly sign a document of commitment to right behaviour so that no one will say he didn’t know.
The AUN president said it would not cost other higher institutions anything to implement such a programme.
 
Ensign, who was accompanied by Assistant Vice President, Safety and Security Operations, Dr. Lionel Rawlins, added that if a school does not have walls and fences, students should not be made to attend such.
  
He said: “If you go to a school and security officers are poorly kitted and poorly dressed, it means the security is poor. If you went to a school and there is no technology, no CCTV, it means you are sending your children to an unsafe environment. We make sure we do all we can to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors.”