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8 years after Chibok abduction: 1436 students, 17 teachers kidnapped, 16 students killed from Dec 2020 —UNICEF

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According to UNICEF Nigeria, since December 2020, a total of 1,436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools across the country, especially the Northern part, out which number, 16 school children have lost their lives.

UNICEF stated that 14th April, 2022 marks eight years since the first known attack on a learning institution in Nigeria on 14 April 2014, in which 276 students at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state, North-East Nigeria were abducted by a Non-State Armed Group.

It therefore called that on the 8th Anniversary of the Abduction of the 276 students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, there should be action to make schools safe for more girls to enrol and complete their education

UNICEF also called on the authorities in Nigeria to make schools safe and provide a secure learning environment for every child, especially for girls, to increase girls’ enrolment, retention, and completion of education.

It lamented that since then, a spate of attacks on schools and abductions of students – sometimes resulting in their deaths – has become recurrent in the last two years, especially in the north-west and north-central regions of Nigeria.

“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,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

He added that, “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,” added Hawkins.

Read also: 55 Ukrainian children become refugees every minute —UNICEF

He further stated that, “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 which 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,” said Hawkins.

In Nigeria, a total of 11,536 schools were closed since December 2020 due to abductions and security issues explaining that these schools closures have impacted the education of approximately 1.3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year.

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 as contained in a statement by Geoffrey Njoku, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, Nigeria

By Yemi Kanji, Bauchi…

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