Int’l Day To Protect Education From Attack: Nigeria’s Educational System Still Under Attack

As the world marks the International Day to protect education from attack, how is Nigeria’s educational system faring?

One day in 2020, armed terrorists attacked the Government Secondary School Kankara in Katsina, North West Nigeria, and abducted hundreds of schoolchildren as negotiating pawns. Thirteen-year-old Garba Mansur was one of them. He had just recovered from chronic malaria when the terror group invaded his school facility and disappeared with several students into the forest.

Many parents of these pupils stormed the streets of Katsina to protest the abduction of their kids. They charged the government to secure the freedom of the schoolchildren at all costs. Later, a viral audio message claimed Boko Haram was responsible for the abduction of the students. 

It was neither the first nor last time such an attack would happen in Nigeria. 

For years, Boko Haram and other Nigerian terror groups have waged violent armed campaigns against education in the northern region of Nigeria. In 2014, Boko Haram, whose name translates from Hausa to mean “Western education is forbidden”, abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in Chibok, in what is now known as the Chibok abduction. Before then,  in 2009, two blocks of three classrooms were set ablaze by terrorists in Borno. A year later, the militants burnt down 36 classrooms in Maiduguri, the state capital. 

Terrorists have since abducted hundreds of schoolchildren in exchange for ransom demands. In 2012 alone, reports of 17 attacks were recorded in at least nine locations in northern Nigeria and nine schools. The following year, there were 17 attacks on schools in five states. The recurring mass abduction of schoolchildren spread fears, causing the shutdown of over 3000 disadvantaged schools in the northwest and northcentral states in 2020.

Also, schoolchildren have been prime victims of terror attacks over the years. In 2014, for instance, Boko Haram massacred 29 boys who were students of the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi in Yobe state in the northeastern part of the country. 

Many of the schools that have suffered attacks in the country remain closed, depriving many children of the right to education. 

Although Sept. 9 marks the International Day to protect education from attack, militants subject Nigeria’s school system to terror, battering the morale of students and teachers in the northern region. About 1,680 pupils have been abducted in Nigeria since 2014, according to a report by Save the Children, a global humanitarian organisation. The organization noted that several boys and girls withdrew from schools due to the fear of constant attacks. 

The report also stated that between April 2014 and Dec. 2022, 70 attacks resulted in the deaths of almost 180 kids, causing the injuries of around 90 others and approximately 60 kidnapped members of school personnel.

Nigeria is a signatory to the Safe Schools Declaration, a 2015 set of commitments to protect school children, students and teachers from attacks during armed conflict. 

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Mahdi Garba

Mahdi Garba covers development, security, conflict, climate & disinformation at HumAngle. He heads the Humanitarian Desk at HumAngle. He tweets regularly @MahdiGarba.

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