1,436 school children, 17 teachers kidnapped in 10 months —UNICEF

The United Nations Children and Education Fund, UNICEF, said yesterday that about 1,436 school children and 17 teachers were abducted from Nigeria schools between December 2020 and October 2021

It also disclosed that about 16 school children lost their lives in the process of their abduction within the same period.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Hawkins, disclosed this on the sideline of the ongoing 27th Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, holding in Abuja

He said the prevailing security situation across Nigeria remained volatile and uncertain, especially in the Northeast, Northwest, Northcentral and pockets of insecurity across other parts of the country.

According to him, education of 1.3 million children, whose schooling was disrupted and learning severely impacted in the 2020/2021 academic calendar, were directly affected by the closure of 11,000 schools

Hawkins, who warned that the action might lead to an approximate $3.4 billion loss due to unrealized lifetime earrings of these children, said:  ‘‘Since December 2020, 1,436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools and 16 school children lost their life.

‘‘But for too many girls and boys, school is where they experience violence. Bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, corporal punishment and other forms of humiliation can come at the hands of a peer, a teacher or even a school authority. Many children also experience school violence associated with gang culture, weapons and fighting.

‘Violence in schools can have serious effects on children’s psychological and physical health. At its most extreme, violence in and around schools can be deadly. For millions of children and adolescents living in conflict-affected areas, school too often becomes the front line. ”What’s more, violence in school can reduce school attendance, lower academic performance and increase drop-out rates. This has devastating consequences for the success and prosperity of children, their families and entire communities.’’

Hawkins, who decried the high rate of abduction of school children in Nigeria, said education played an important role across all SDGs and a driving force towards achievement of all 17 sustainable development goals.

‘‘Education is a fundamental human right which every government must make it available for all as part of the development plan.

”Every child has the right to go to school free from fear. When schools provide quality, inclusive and safe education, children can learn, build friendships and gain the critical skills they need to navigate social situations. In the best circumstances, school puts children on the path to a promising future.

‘‘Crisis and emergencies have the potential to wipe out years of investment in educational achievements and can upset the development of the education system. In recent times, schools in Nigeria are fast becoming soft targets and abduction is gradually becoming a norm and a weapon of negotiations.

‘‘This event on Sustainable Safe School seeks to follow-up on the commitment to the Abuja Safe Schools compact with the Government of Nigeria, Chairman of the Governor’s Forum, private sector, all security agencies and the international community.

”The event is going to guide Nigeria in establishing safe teaching and learning environment, which is urgently needed to secure Nigeria’s economic future.’’

To ensure safe school for all girls and boys, he called for provisioning of budget for safe school with transparency, and accountability; crisis responsive education sector planning and coordinated response;  as well as stringent monitoring, tracking, channelization of information and Institutionalization of psycho-social support.


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