BY HENRY TYOHEMBA, Abuja
Stakeholders have expressed concern over the rising number of out of school children as most schools remain shut in some parts of northern Nigeria following the wave of school closures in the region between December 2020 and March 2021.
They stated that the continuous closure of schools is posing serious implications for academic stability, domestic finance, crime and rising illiteracy in the region alongside security implications, drug, cultism and general crime.
Findings by the Incentive Based Programme (IBP) of the Policy House International obtained by LEADERSHIP Weekend revealed that about 60 boarding house schools have been shut down in the North due to the spate of kidnap of school children.
The organisation further revealed that over 800 students had been kidnapped between December and March 2021. A breakdown revealed that 344 were kidnapped from Government Secondary School, Kankara, Kastina State, 27 in Government Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State, 300 girls were also kidnapped at Government Girls’ College, Kegere, Zamfara State and some other ones in Afaka, Kaduna State.
Executive director, IBP, Taiwo Akerele, said if the current trend is not checked, the number of out of school children in Nigeria may increase from the current 10.5million to 13million by December 2021.
“From our records and estimates, close to 800 students have been kidnapped between December 2020 and March 2021. This has also resulted into the closure of boarding schools in at least three states over the period and available data shows that over 60 schools in Niger, Zamfara, Kastina and some parts of Kaduna and Sokoto states, with at least an average of 600 students, are affected by this sudden closures.”
Akerele noted that the general insecurity in the region has dampened educational enthusiasm among parents and children of school age, while lamenting that other countries are doing everything to close the gap in number of out of school children in the society.
He said the activities of Boko Haram, kidnappers and bandits are further deepening the Nigerian figures saying this is particularly worrisome and pathetic for northern Nigeria that is already considered to be averagely, an educationally dis- advantaged region of Nigeria.
They, however, called on the government to accelerate the implementation of the lofty educational intervention programmes outlined under the Alternate School Program (ASP) earlier launched in January 2021 and also called on the states government to fastrack their investment in perimeter fencing, local security arrangements and deployment of technology in securing the schools.