United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said security challenges in Nigeria have affected the education of 1.3 million children in less than two years.
The UN body said since December 2020, a total of 11, 536 schools were closed due to abductions and security issues.
UNICEF disclosed this in a statement issued on Thursday to mark the eighth anniversary of the Chibok girls’ abduction.
Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF representative in Nigeria, said school abductions and attacks have discouraged children, especially girls, from learning.
He said 60 percent of the over 10 million out-of-school children in the country are girls.
Hawkins said the spate of attacks in the north-west and north-central has led to the abduction of 1,436 school children, 17 teachers and the death of 16 school children since December 2020.
“Unsafe schools, occasioned by attacks on schools and abduction of students, are reprehensible, a brutal violation of the rights of the victims to education, and totally unacceptable, their occurrences cut short the futures and dreams of the affected students,” he said.
“Attacks on learning institutions render the learning environment insecure and discourage parents and caregivers from sending their wards to schools, while the learners themselves become fearful of the legitimate pursuit of learning.
“The invisible harm school attacks inflict on the victims’ mental health is incalculable and irredeemable.
“Girls have particularly been targeted, exacerbating the figures of out-of-school children in Nigeria, 60 percent of whom are girls. It is a trajectory that must be halted, and every hand in Nigeria must be on deck to ensure that learning in Nigeria is not a dangerous enterprise for any child, particularly for girls.
“In Katsina state, government and communities have fenced some schools, and this is encouraging girls to attend school, underscoring the reality that collaboration is required in addressing insecurity in schools and making schools safe, especially for girls.
“Although Nigeria has ratified the Safe Schools Declaration, schools and learners are not sufficiently protected. Unless greater attention is given to protecting children, teachers and schools, they will continue to come under attack. Urgent, coordinated action is needed to safeguard the right to learn for every child in Nigeria”, he said.
He noted that collaboration is key to addressing insecurity and urged the government to intensify efforts to encourage girls’ education by keeping schools safe.