The United Nations, on Tuesday, revealed that from 2009 until December 2018, 611 teachers were killed and 910 schools damaged or destroyed in Nigeria by terrorists.
It, therefore, urged the Nigerian government to prioritise school safety and learners’ protection.
The UN stated that education in emergency partners are appealing for $55 million USD to provide emergency education to 3.1 conflict-affected children in the northeast Nigeria this year.
A statement by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Activities, OCHA on the first international day to protect education from attack said, so far this year, only $3.3 million USD, a mere 6 per cent of the total needed has been received.
The statement observed that, protracted conflict in the north-east has had devastating impacts on education.
“From 2009 until December 2018, 611 teachers were killed and 910 schools damaged or destroyed. More than 1,500 schools were forced to close and some 4.2 million children in the north-east are at risk of missing out on an education,” the statement said.
It also observed that hundreds of girls have been abducted, some even from their own schools, which are meant to be safe zones. The attacks on schools, communities and education itself are tragic consequences of a protracted conflict that has left a generation of children traumatized.
Speaking on the attack on education, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon said, “As State Governments plan to reopen schools after prolonged closures, building a resilient education system to withstand future shocks should be included in pandemic response plans,”
He noted that prioritising safety in schools for educators and learners is an indication of the Government’s commitment to protecting investments in the education sector and a validation of Nigeria’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration.
The UN said incessant attacks on schools and learners could reverse the gains on education investments made by government of Nigeria, the UN and other multilateral, bilateral, and private sector partners over years if left unchecked.
“Attacks on schools are a violation of humanity and basic decency. We must not allow these senseless attacks to destroy the hopes and dreams of a generation of children. We must do all in our power to ensure that schools and the children and teachers within them are protected,’’ said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.
“As the world begins planning to re-open schools once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we must ensure that schools remain safe places of learning, even in countries in conflict.”
According to the statement, the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to build a resilient education system, invest in human capital and strengthen communities who act as first responders in the event of attacks on schools.
“To deliver for children in Nigeria, education must remain on top of the public agenda while Government should boost efforts to translate its vision for education into real change for children, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged learners,” the statement added.