by Usman Alabi
I was in the North-east as a youth corps member threes ago, precisely in Damaturu, Yobe state. Even as at then, education in the state was already in shambles no thanks to the activities of the Boko Haram sect.
Most of the schools had been razed to the ground by the terrorists and those that were still standing are ghost of their former self. Then you could count the number of schools that have not been burnt, and most of the schools had to be closed to avert any further mortal disaster, of course the Buni Yadi and Potiskum school killings are still very much fresh in our heart.
You would recall that 29 male students were murdered at night by Boko Haram in Federal Government college Buni Yadi . I also recall that the school where I was also serving as a youth corps member was raised to the ground, and like every other corps member serving in government schools, I had no place of primary assignment.
The implication of this is that education in these northeastern states witnessed a hiatus from the lowest level to the tertiary institution, educational infrastructures that were not even enough in the first place have now been destroyed and despoiled.
This explains the reason why Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children, most of whom are concentrated in the northeast.
According to statistics provided by UNESCO, there are about 10.5 million out of school children in Nigeria which is the highest in the world. In fact, Nigeria account for 47% of the world’s out of school children, 60 percent of them are in Northern Nigeria, sixty percent of them are girls. According to UNICEF, “In Northeastern Nigeria, conflict has deprived many children of access to education. Teachers have been killed and schools burned down or closed for security reasons”.
Based on figures released by Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), at least 611 teachers have been killed in Boko Haram attacks since 2009, which include 308 in Borno, 75 in Adamawa, 18 in Yobe, 25 in Kaduna, 120 in Plateau, 63 in Kano and two in Gombe states; and a further 19,000 have been forced to flee since 2009.
Between 2009 and 2015, attacks in northeast Nigeria destroyed 910 schools and forced at least 1,500 closed. The HRW further stated that 952,029 school age children had fled the violence.
Some students in tertiary institutions in affected states were also killed and their lecturers. If there is any sector that has been hard hit by the Boko Haram crisis, it is the education sector.
The region also rank low in the recent WAEC result released, Borno ranked 25th, Adamawa was 28th while Yobe was last being in the 37th position.
Although normalcy is returning to the state, but the devastation of a storm cannot be fully understood until the end of that storm, this is exactly the situation of education in the north east in the face of the Boko Haram violence. And this calls for a lot of rebuilding.
I suggest that the government declare a state of emergency in the education sector in the northeast because the region is in desperate need of that, and such could afford the government the opportunity to correct the initial ills in the system, they should begin to encourage the parents to enroll their children back to school.
The importance of this would be fully understood if we are to consider it in the light of the factors that led to and fuel the insurgency in the first place, which are basically lack of proper education and unemployment.
All the stakeholders involved including international aid organisations must therefore put hands on deck to get the schools up and going and return sanity to the education sector. As this we believe is the best and practical way of healing the wounds inflicted by the Boko Haram insurgency.