THE activities of bandits have dealt a devastating blow to the struggling educational system of the country. Sustained efforts from both the federal and state governments are needed to check to frequent attacks and kidnapping of students from their schools.
By Isibor Anthony
Bashir Muhammad, a father of nine has stopped sending his children to school because of the frequent attacks and kidnapping of students in schools in many states in the North.
“Frankly speaking, we can’t take our children back to public schools because there is no adequate security. No measures are taken by the government to protect them,” he told journalists after the recent attack and kidnapping of students in Kankara, Katsina State.
Like Bashir, most parents in the north would rather have children without any formal Education, than have them stay a day in the hands of the bandits. Unfortunately, the activities of the bandits will definitely affect the ongoing campaign to reduce the number of “Out of Schoolchildren in the country.
According to UNICEF and UN reports, Nigeria has about 10.5 t0 13.2 million of out of school children. This represents 20 percent of the total out of school children in the world
And in what appears to be the failure of some state governments in the North to tackle the problem of banditry, is the resort to the closure of the schools in some of the states to avoid further incidents of kidnapping of students in the schools.
For instance, Ibrahim Abdullahi, Zamfara State commissioner for education, said: “We have received the approval of Governor Bello Matawalle to close all the schools located along our borders with our neighboring states of Katsina and Kaduna.
“This is following the recent abduction of over 300 secondary school students at the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State.
“As you know, Kankara shares borders with Zamfara State and that the attack is also a threat to our students which was why we suggested to the governor of the pressing need to close down these schools for the safety of all.”
In the last decade, the incidence of kidnapping students has become a lucrative pastime for bandits. Some of the notable incidents include the April 14, 2014 attack on Chibok Government Secondary School and the kidnapping of more than 276 secondary school girls by Boko Haram terrorists.
The incident attracted both national and global condemnation. Despite the global outcry and the efforts of the “Bring Back Our Girls campaign” hundreds of the girls have not been rescued or released by the terrorists.
And in 2017, three years after the Chibok incident, Rakiya Abubakar, one of the kidnapped Chibok girls was found by troops of 27 Brigade around the Alagarno area near Ajigin Damboa LGA along with her six-month-old baby.
While the country was still negotiating for the return of the remaining Chibok girls, in February 2018, four years after the 2014 Chibok abduction, another 110 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in Dapchi in neighboring Yobe State.
However, most of the girls were released and the Christian girl, Leah Sharibu among them, who refused to denounce her faith and embrace Islam was not released.
And in December 2020, the bandits attacked the Government Boys Science School in Kankara local government area of Kastina state, taking away 500 students. The students were later released after the intervention of the Katsina State Government.
In the first quarter of this year, the bandits have successfully raided and kidnapped helpless school children from two different schools. First was the Government Science School, Kagara in Kastina State where 27 students and 15 others were kidnapped and secondly was the kidnapping of 317 students of Female Girls School Jangebe in Zamfara State.
Commenting on these ugly developments in Nigeria, UNICEF said that as of 2017, Boko Haram had kidnapped more than 1,000 minors and killed about 2,000 teachers. According to UNICEF, only 53 percent of children of school age in northern Nigeria are currently attending classes. Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF representative in Nigeria urged the assailants to let the teenagers go immediately, after the recent attack in Zamfara state.
“We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” Hawkins said.
“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through – one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being,’’ he said.
Hawkins told the UN News in an exclusive interview, recorded before the Zamfara incident, that, “Such incidents have become ‘a way of life’ to many in Nigeria”.
“Bandits hoping to make quick cash by forcing the families and authorities to pay ransom money for their hostages, often target institutions just out of reach of state control and usually in rural areas,” he said.
“We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria,” Hawkins said.
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General had also called for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted children and for their safe return to their families.
According to him, attacks on schools and other educational facilities constitute a grave violation of the rights of children and human rights more broadly. He stressed that schools must remain safe spaces for children to learn without fear of violence and urged the Nigerian authorities to “spare no efforts in bringing those responsible for this crime to be brought to justice”.
Apart from the negative impact of the activities of the bandits on the education sector, some experts believe that the closure of schools will never solve the problem, rather they expect both the federal and state governments to be proactive in the war against banditry and take the challenge of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians more seriously because of the damage it poses to the development of educated and skilled manpower for the country.
– Mar. 8, 2021 @ 18:35 GMT |