How UNICEF helps Ngare, a lawyer turned teacher to support vulnerable children in Borno

Ngare Bukar, the head teacher at Modu Makaranta Primary School in Maiduguri, Nigeria, is not your typical educator. Behind his expansive desk is a picture of himself in legal attire; this is no fluke. 43-year-old Bukar has a unique background. He is a lawyer turned teacher. Having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 2008, Bukar views his career path as destiny, despite the surprise others express when they learn about his legal background.

“All the time,” he says. “The recurring question is, ‘Are you really a lawyer?’ The emphasis is consistently there,” he adds. Contrary to what opinions about his chosen career might be, Bukar sees his profession as simply destiny.

“I have always loved to teach. Even as a secondary school student, I found myself teaching my peers various subjects. But my teaching career officially began while I was studying at the University of Maiduguri. I was employed as a class teacher by the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA). I even skipped university tests to prioritise teaching.”Ngare Bukar

After practicing as a lawyer for several years, Bukar decided to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in 2019. He became a head teacher in 2016 and continues to balance his legal work with his role in education. While Bukar still takes cases to court and serves as the legal adviser for the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) programme of the World Bank in Borno State, his true fulfilment lies in teaching and shaping the lives of children affected by conflict.

Ngare Alhaji Bukar teachingUNICEF/UNI507178/UNICEF NigeriaNgare Alhaji Bukar teaching

“I believe that teaching is the foundation for all other professions. Having taught and graduated thousands of children over my 21-year career, I feel fulfilled. If given another chance, I would still choose to be an academic.”Ngare Bukar

Bukar credits UNICEF for their support in his teaching career. Through the Partnership for Learning for All (PLANE) project, UNICEF provides on-the-job training for teachers in northeast Nigeria. “UNICEF has contributed a lot to this school and my teaching career. UNICEF facilitated my training as a Master Trainer for the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) methodology, Psychosocial Support and Child Safeguarding, Kanuri Arithmetic and Reading Intervention, and the Safe School Declaration. I have trained hundreds of teachers and kept honing my skills in the profession. These trainings have enhanced my skills and improved learning outcomes for the children in my school.According to Bukar, “my favourite training must be the TaRL methodology. It is a transformative approach that helps children read and write. In three weeks, you will see children identifying letters or reading. These are things they could not do before the methodology was introduced. This is wonderful. Last year, some of our children in the upper class left for another school to write the common entrance into secondary schools. They left because they were competent enough. They would not have dared it if they were not able to read and write.“The psychosocial support training also has a profound impact on us because of our peculiarities. Initially, over 70 percent of our children here were orphans. That percentage has reduced over the years, but you can imagine the impact on teaching and learning. The training has helped me support the school community better. It has even positively affected how I socialize. To support my teachers in their work better, there is one habit I have imbibed. I step down from all training, even if my school is not selected. Once I return from the training, I organise an in-house training so that they can benefit,’’ adds Bukar.Despite his successes, Bukar has faced dark moments in his life. He tragically lost two of his younger brothers to armed conflict. One was a civil engineer, and the other was a banker. Bukar himself received threats and was forced to flee to Kaduna and Abuja in 2012. He eventually returned to a small village near Maiduguri in 2015 without his family’s knowledge. However, he remains optimistic about the current situation in his region.Ngare Bukar’s story is one of resilience, dedication, and a deep commitment to education. As a lawyer turned teacher, he has found his true calling in shaping the lives of children affected by conflict. Through his work and the support of organisations like UNICEF, Bukar is making a significant impact on the education system in northeast Nigeria.

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