- Title: Escaped Chibok girls overcome doubts to attend university.
- Date: 17th November 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF GIRLS PLAYING VIOLIN VARIOUS OF INSTRUCTOR PLAYING KEYBOARD VARIOUS OF STUDENTS PLAYING THE VIOLIN
- Embargoed: 2nd December 2016 11:41
- Keywords: Chibok Girls Boko Haram University Scholarships Education Insecurity Rehabilitation
- Location: YOLA, NIGERIA
- City: YOLA, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Insurgencies
- Reuters ID: LVA00258U1CNR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: QUALITY AS INCOMING
Two years ago 57 girls jumped off the truck used to kidnap them by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria.
Today, 24 of them are taking classes at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, which offered scholarships to all the girls who managed to flee the Islamist militant group after it abducted more than 270 of their classmates in April 2014.
The abduction was the most high-profile assault in Boko Haram's seven-year insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate.
While the girls have gradually settled into life at the AUN, starting classes was a challenge for many of the new arrivals.
Many of the Chibok girls could not read or write fluently when they arrived at the university according to staff.
Margee Ensign is the president at AUN. She says the Chibok girls arrived on campus in August 2014, most of them nervous and doubtful about resuming their education.
"Their progress here at AUN shows us and should show the world that young people like these can excel, when they are given the opportunity and the support and we welcome the opportunity to bring the rest of their sisters and make sure they also get the opportunity that these beautiful young women have," said Ensign.
"When they came, they were very very traumatized so it took us some time you know to get them settle down especially with the safety, they were afraid of you know, their safety but they gradually they came with all of the security that we have on campus. They actually came to realize that they were more safer here than anywhere they could be," said Regina Musa, a psychologist at the University.
But not everyone celebrated their return to education in Yola, the capital of a state neighbouring Borno, where they were seized.
Some parents say they have been criticized for sending their children back to school after what happened.
To accommodate their varying academic abilities, the university devised a special programme for the girls, rather than just sending them to its affiliated secondary school; and split them into beginner, intermediate and advanced classes.
Called the 'New Foundation School' (NFS), the girls are tested frequently in the hope of getting them ready to move up to the university. But they are also awarded regularly for public speaking, sports and other extracurricular activities.
The girls have their own dormitory and a floor to themselves, but have bonded with the rest of the students.
"I was just like wow, how am I going to start because everyone is so different from me, the way they talk, I couldn't talk the way they talk, I couldn't do what they're doing so I just lost confidence that I cannot do it so gradually I started grabbing what they're doing, started getting used to what they're doing to the… and I see a lot of change in me," said one of the Chibok girls.
"The day I saw them like I said it's not true because I didn't believe that was real but I confirmed it and I'm very happy. The rest that have not yet come, we are praying, we are still hoping they will come back one day and we want them to come here, we will study together," said another Chibok girl at the University.
The girls - six of whom have moved from the NFS to the university to study subjects like law, medicine, and computer science - said they all wanted to go home to Chibok and help to rebuild their community once they had finished their education.
"After I have finished with my studies, I will get back to Chibok and build hospitals, treating people because we are having problem of doctors from our place people are saying the study of doctor is so hard," one of the unidentified students.
Boko Haram released 21 of the girls last month after the Red Cross and the Swiss government brokered a deal with the group, but some 200 remain missing.
The group has abducted hundreds of men, women and children, killed thousands and displaced more than 2 million people.
But it was the kidnapping of the Chibok girls which prompted outrage worldwide and spurred a campaign, #bringbackourgirls, backed by celebrities and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Audio restrictions: This clip's Audio includes copyrighted material. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing the audio contained in this clip.