Boko Haram: The War on Education
The state of total insecurity that has been created by Boko Haram and maintained by these regular attacks is unfortunately yielding consequences that are more than just an undesired side effect: the closure of schools and a general inability for many children and teenagers to have access to any education, both in Nigeria and Cameroon.
More than half of the schools closed (57%) are located in the Nigerian State of Borno, an area that has borne the majority of Boko Haram’s attacks, according to a recent statement issued by UNICEF. These schools did not reopen with the beginning of the new school year.
Since 2009 in Northeastern Nigeria, more than 2,295 teachers have been killed and 19,000 have been displaced. Around 1,400 schools have been completely destroyed, and most others cannot reopen due to sustaining irreparable damage, or because of insecurity in the area. It is estimated that 3 million children now need education support.
“Children in Northeastern Nigeria are living through so much horror,” said Justin Forsyth, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the end of a three-day visit to Maiduguri, the epicenter of the crisis in the northeast. “In addition to devastating malnutrition, violence and an outbreak of cholera, the attacks on schools will probably create a lost generation of children, threatening their future and that of the provinces.”
A similar story has been unfolding for some time in the Far North of Cameroon. PIME Brother Fabio Mussi reports: “Hundreds of schools have been closed on the border with Nigeria,” the missionary and head of the local Caritas explains. “Families who want to continue sending their children to school are forced to move about thirty or forty kilometers inside the country, moving away from the border where regular attacks are taking place. Or there are those who send their children to relatives living in non-affected areas. But not everyone, of course, has this possibility. There are about ten thousand youth who have moved to continue studying.”
In Nigeria alone, about one million children have been displaced by violence and this year 450,000 children under age five are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition.