With hundreds still being held by terrorists, the United Nations on Thursday raised the alarm that rampant abduction of school children poses a collective threat to the future of Nigerians.
In a statement on the 2021 International Day to Protect Education from Attack, commemorated annually on September 9 and released by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, kidnappings have affected hundreds of children in a number of states in the country.
Declaring that by such abductions “the collective future of Nigeria is under threat,” the UN condemned “attacks on schools” as they are “a direct attack on the future generation” and calling for more efforts to protect students and ensure uninterrupted teaching and learning.
The statement noted that abductions are “traumatic for the children, undermines their individual dignity, and sometimes leads affected families to withdraw them from education entirely.
“I strongly condemn every form of attack that has kept many children away from schools. I call on the federal and state governments to do more to protect schools from attack and to ensure that teaching and learning is safe and conducive in all schools in Nigeria,” he added.
“Whenever teaching and learning is disrupted, the impact on human capital development is enormous as the recovery period is always tortuous and longer than the length of the initial disruption,” he said.
He explained that Nigeria cannot afford to leave the situation of incessant attacks on schools to remain unabated, adding that “children are traumatised; parents are scared; teachers and school administrators are afraid; attacks on schools are gradually spreading to areas not known to insurgencies. With education under attack, the collective future of Nigeria is under threat. This must stop now.”
According to the statement, “with over 10 million children already out of school, conflict has aggravated the situation and deeply affected education and the prospects of many young people, especially its most vulnerable ones. In the last academic year, it is estimated that 1.3 million children have been impacted by attacks or abductions at schools in Nigeria.
“Across the north-east region alone, over 600,000 children remain out of school and some 1.1 million need educational support to stay in school. This has all been compounded by the setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement added.