from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – MORE than 1 million Nigeria children will not be starting the new school year this month as a result of insurgency by Islamist groups and bandits.
The children will not be joining 37 million others.
Learners are being cut off from their education and other vital benefits schools provide, as families and communities remain fearful of sending children back to their classrooms due to the spate of school attacks and student abductions.
There have been prevalent in Nigeria over the last several months.
Peter Hawkins, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Nigeria, lamented the insecurity.
He said a child’s first day of school should be an exciting event for parents and children – a landmark moment in their young lives, signaling new learning and new friends that will impact their futures.
“This moment is being stolen from around a million Nigerian children this year, as insecurity threatens their safety and education,” Hawkins said.
“It is unacceptable that communities should be worried to send their children to school over fears they will be abducted from what should be a safe space,” Hawkins said.
So far this year, there have been 20 attacks on schools in Nigeria, with 1 436 children abducted and 16 children dead.
More than 200 children are still missing.
Kidnap gangs and the Boko Haram factions are the biggest security threat in the West African country, which is the most populous nation in the continent with over 200 million people.
– CAJ News