By Chima Onwe and Evelyn Rupert
ADAMAWA, Nigeria — Hau’wa is practicing her breathing. She places her hands on her stomach, inhaling deeply, and counts to 10.
She is seated with classmates in a non-formal learning center in this northern city, where part of her education is devoted to social and emotional learning. The breathing exercise is a tool that helps students learn to control their anger.
The instruction is aimed at helping Hau’wa, 15, cope with the trauma she has already experienced, at the hands of Boko Haram.
Across five states, 1,300 similar non-formal learning centers supported by the Nigeria Education Crisis Response program are helping students like Hau’wa.
With the help of the communities, the program is increasing the availability of safe and protective learning spaces that provide instruction in core academic subjects, wrap-around services like socio-emotional support and life skills for internally displaced and out-of-school children and youth.
In northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram has terrorized communities for more than a decade, this programming can encourage healing and build resiliency. By focusing on the overall wellbeing of students, the non-formal learning centers aim to help children regain a sense of normalcy and community and foster educational success.
The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by Creative Associates International in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and more than 30 Nigerian organizations.