The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that in Nigeria, a total of 11,536 schools were closed since December, 2020 due to abductions and security issues, noting that the closure has impacted the education of approximately 1.3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year.
A statement signed by UNICEF Communication Specialist Mr Samuel Kaalu, stated that this interruption of learning contributed to gaps in children’s knowledge and skills and may lead to the loss of approximately $3.4 billion in these children’s lifetime earnings, thereby further perpetuating cycles of poverty and inequality.
The statement added that UNICEF, with generous funding from donors, is collaborating with the government of Nigeria to protect children’s right to education in a safe and inclusive learning environment.
It explained that the programme involves building the capacity of School-based management committees (SBMCs) on school safety and security and strengthening community resilience.
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 their enrolment, retention, and completion of education.
According to the statement, the first known attack on a learning institution in Nigeria took place on 14 April 2014, when 276 students at Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State, were abducted by Boko Haram members, adding that since then, there had been a spate of attacks on schools and abductions of students, sometimes resulting in deaths.
It further noted that the incidents had become recurrent in the last two years, especially in the north-west and north-central regions of the country.
“Since December 2020, 1,436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools, and 16 school children lost their lives,” it stated.