According to UNICEF report, about 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school. But with the spate of insurgents’ attacks in the North Eastern Nigeria, there is an adverse signal that tends to discourage girl-child education. JOYCE REMI –BABAYEJU takes a look at the disturbing trend of out-of-school girl-children
The plight of education of the Nigerian child often brings to memory the plight of children in the North Eastern part of the country where insurgency has been tearing families apart.
According to reports, an average attack on villages by terrorists brings sorrow, tears and blood; husbands are killed, their wives and girls are taken away as prisoners’ of war into the infamous Sambisa forest. Long before insurgents made a scarring statement on the nation’s peace and national security in 2009, Nigeria has been one of the countries in sub-Sahara Africa with a high rate of children out of school.
According to UNICEF report, a total number of 10.5 million children are out of school. Although this was the situation in pre-terrorism period in the country, the ugly situation of attacks and kidnaps in the insurgency- torn region of the North Eastern region has further forced more children out of school and the figure has doubled with Boko Haran’s hate for the girl-child education.
Leader of the Jihadist group, Abubakar Shakau, after the kidnap of the over 270 Chibok school girls in Borno State on April 15, 2014, had openly expressed his disgust for girls’ education. This no doubt is a war on the girl-child education. The kidnap of the Chibok girls was received with worldwide condemnation and protests. The kidnap happened on the night of the April 15 Nyanya Motor park bombing.
After the kidnap of the school girls, the leader of insurgency had boasted that, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market by Allah. They are slaves and I will sell them. I sell women. Girls, you should go and get married”, he was quoted as saying.
It was reported that the kidnapped pupils were sitting for their end of school examinations and in the night they were attacked by insurgents who packed them into vehicles and took them away to an unknown destination which was later identified as Sambisa forest. These girls had embarked a journey of no return. Nigeria has never witnessed this kind of ugly development in all its centenary history.
This has further increased the number of children and girls out of school. Although the number of girls forced out of school cannot be ascertained but the number is said to be increasing daily by this obnoxious attacks. There were reports that the military Joint Task Force which embarked on a rescue mission into insurgents conclave has begun freeing captives mostly women and young girls, many of them pregnant.
Instead of allowing girls to go to school, the insurgency situation has forced many parents to withdraw their children from school. Those girls that witnessed what happened to the fallen girls are scared of going back to school.
So far, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people since it commenced its bloody campaign against the Nigerian people in 2010 and more people are daily being killed. Many of the victims are children. Many children have lost their parents and relatives. These children have no hope of going back to school except government raises up to its social responsibility to protect and provide for most of them who are now homeless and orphans.
Insurgency has disrupted the education of millions of children in the crisis torn part of the country and has destroyed the lives of millions of children too. Instead of allowing girls to go to school, terrorists prefer to turn them into emergency wives and sex slaves. In recent times, they are being used as suicide bombers.
It is on record that no other terrorist act has elicited the intense global outrage and condemnation as the mass kidnap incident of Chibok girls. It was a most cruel act that necessitated an outpouring of national and international support for the girls with the hashtag: #BringBackOurGirls. The plight of these innocent school girls could be compared to that teenage school girl from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, who on October 9, 2012, narrowly survived a gunshot at her head by the Taliban on account of her determination to attend Western education system.
Also a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, stated that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world while Pakistan has the second highest.
Interestingly, both countries have been experiencing acts of terrorism aimed at abolishing Western education and discouraging girls from acquiring education. The report further revealed that Nigeria has a high incidence of school drop-out rates with one in every five children not in school.
A total of 10.5 million Nigerian kids are currently not in school. This reportedly accounts for 47% of out-of-school children worldwide. The insurgency in northern Nigeria has made thousands of children, especially girls, to drop out of school. This is coupled with the high rate of poverty in the country.