As the world marked the second international day to protect education from Attack on 8 September, 2021and Nigeria set to host the fourth international conference on the safe schools declaration on 25-27 October, the continuous attacks on schools is posing a serious threat to the right to education of children in the north.
Nigeria currently has more than 10 million children out of school, most of them predominantly in the north. The school attacks and kidnappings have only made the situation worse. Despite the fact that both parents and the survivors themselves have emphasised the importance of ensuring children continue to learn, the continuous attacks on schools is posing a serious threat to the right to education of children in the north.
This year’s theme, “Ensuring Safe Education for All: From Commitment to Practice” had parents, communities, students and stakeholders calling on the government of Nigeria to ensure that Nigerian children are not denied their fundamental right to education by making schools and places of learning safe. Since the first known abduction of school children in Nigeria took place in 2014, when 276 girls were taken from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, north-east Nigeria, attacks on schools and abductions of students have grown in number and spread across the northern part of the country. Although UNICEF is working with government and other partners, including the Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, to ensure learning continues despite these attacks.
The EAA’s Educate A Child (EAC) programme ensures child education is ongoing in the states of Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, despite the serious security challenges in north-west Nigeria, many schools in the north are currently closed after scores of students were kidnapped. “These horrific abductions often result in the immediate closure of all schools in the affected states – putting an abrupt halt to the education of affected students,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. “Even when schools reopen, it discourages parents from sending their children to school and leaves children traumatized and fearful of going to classrooms to learn. With increasing incidents of attacks on schools and kidnapping of students.
entire educational system in northern Nigeria is at serious risk if nothing is done urgently to put a halt to the attacks and abductions,” said Hawkins. Hamidu Isyaku, 17, a survivor of abduction at a boys’ secondary school in Katsina State in December 2020 said when school reopens, he will go back there to continue studying science because he wants to be an engineer.
“After the horrific experience of being kidnapped, I was afraid of going back to school, but I will resume learning when my school reopens,” said AminaAbdullahi,15, a student who dreams of being a medical doctor.” To Ibrahim Mustafa, if he could change the events of one day in his life, it’s likely he would choose June 18thof this year.
That was the day his only daughter, Fatima 18, was brutally abducted by gun-toting men at her school in Kebbi State, where she has been studying for the last six years. “What hurts me and my wife most is that Fatima was abducted on the last day of term just when school was about to close, and we were already expecting her arrival home,” said Ibrahim, 45. More than two months after her abduction, Fatima remains in captivity