Many northeast Nigeria schools reopen despite fear of attacks: U.N.

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hundreds
of schools in northeast Nigeria have reopened for
the first time in a year and a half, though many
teachers and pupils are reluctant to return
because of persistent violence in the region, the
United Nations said on Tuesday.
Almost 450 schools have reopened in Borno state
since October, more than 18 months after
education was halted in the wake of an attack by
Boko Haram militants on a boarding school in
neighboring Yobe state in which they killed 59
Some schools in Adamawa and Borno states are
doubling the number of classes to provide
education for people uprooted by the conflict as
well as for local children, according to the U.N.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA).
Displaced teachers across the region have
volunteered to teach, and many children who fled
violence in remote rural areas have gone to
school for the first time, the U.N. Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) said.
“Prioritizing education is absolutely essential if
we are to avoid losing the next generation to
more poverty, hopelessness and the risk of
radicalization,” said Toby Lanzer, U.N.
humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel.
Borno is the birthplace of the six-year
insurgency waged by Islamist militant group Boko
Haram, which kidnapped 276 girls from a
secondary school in the village of Chibok in April
A regional offensive by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and
Cameroon earlier this year drove Boko Haram
from much of the territory it held in northern
Nigeria, but the militants have since struck back
with a renewed wave of deadly raids and suicide
More than 1,200 schools have been attacked in
northeast Nigeria and hundreds of teachers and
pupils have been killed by bomb blasts, raising
fears among communities about the safety of
resuming education, according to UNICEF.
“Many parents are reluctant to send their
children – especially girls – to school… even some
teachers are afraid of going to work due to the
targeted attacks, threats of attacks or general
insecurity,” said Eva Ahlen from UNICEF in
The United Nations is working with the Nigerian
government to make schools safer, train teachers
and offer basic education to those staying in
camps and with host families, where nine in 10 of
Nigeria’s 2.2 million internally displaced people
are living.
Even before the conflict in the northeast,
Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school
children in the world, more than 10 million,
according to OCHA.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Tim
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