Yemisi Izuora/Agency Report
The UN children’s agency UNICEF has reported that the Boko Haram insurgency has kept more than one million children out of education, just as analysts have warned that education problems could run deeper.
The report published on Tuesday found that more than 2,000 schools across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger have been closed as a result of the violence imposed by the jihadi militants.
Hundreds of other schools have also come under attack,looted, or set on fire.
“The longer [the children] stay out of school, the greater the risks of being abused, abducted and recruited by armed groups,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa.
Since waging war on the Nigerian government in 2009, Boko Haram has targeted schools, students and teachers.
In April last year, the Islamist group stormed a school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok, abducting 276 school girls.
“It fulfills their initial mandate, which is to topple Nigeria’s secular government and the Western tenants which underpinned that governance structure,” said Ryan Cummings, a security analyst at risk consultancy firm Red24.
Terrorism analysts have warned, however, that eradicating the Islamist militant group from the region alone will not solve the region’s education issue.
“There was already a problem with getting kids to school on a regular basis and that simply became worse one Boko Haram emerged,” said Yan-Pierre of the Modern Security Consulting Group.
Despite more than 400 schools in northeast Nigeria having reopened in recent months, many are overcrowded and lack the necessary supplies, UNICEF said.
Fears of more violence continue to prevent many teachers and parents from allowing the children return to the classroom, however.