William Attah, Gombe
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has decried the recurring abductions of students in Nigeria after the abduction of 276 Chibok school girls by Boko Haram fighters on 14 April, 2014.
A release made available to newsmen by UNICEF’s Communication Specialist, Samuel Kaalu, said UNICEF is even more worried over the increasing spate of the abductions of these children in the last two years in Northwest and North central Nigeria.
It said, “Since December 2020, 1,436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools, and 16 school children lost their lives”.
Also, according to UNICEF, a total of 11, 536 schools were closed since December 2020 due to these abductions and security issues.
It said, these school closures have impacted the education of approximately 1.3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year.
It added that this interruption of learning contributes to gaps in children’s knowledge and skills and may lead to the loss of approximately 3.4 billion USD in these children’s lifetime earnings. This risks to further perpetuate cycles of poverty and inequality.
The UN Children’s agency is therefore calling on the Nigerian Government to immediately take actions to make schools safe for more girls to enroll in school and complete their education.
The release also quoted Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria saying, “Unsafe schools, occasioned by attacks on schools and abduction of students, are reprehensible, a brutal violation of the rights of the victims to education, and totally unacceptable.
“Their occurrences cut short the futures and dreams of the affected students,” Peter Hawkins added.
He said, “attacks on learning institutions render the learning environment insecure and discourage parents and caregivers from sending their wards to schools, while the learners themselves become fearful of the legitimate pursuit of learning.
“The invisible harm school attacks inflict on the victims’ mental health is incalculable and irredeemable.
“Girls have particularly been targeted, exacerbating the figures of out-of-school children in Nigeria, 60 percent of whom are girls. It is a trajectory which must be halted, and every hand in Nigeria must be on deck to ensure that learning in Nigeria is not a dangerous enterprise for any child, particularly for girls,” said Hawkins.
“Although Nigeria has ratified the Safe Schools Declaration, schools and learners are not sufficiently protected.
“Unless greater attention is given to protecting children, teachers and schools, they will continue to come under attack. Urgent, coordinated action is needed to safeguard the right to learn for every child in Nigeria.”