From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday complained about the devastating effect of the rising attacks on public schools, especially in the North, predicting that such attacks could have devastating effects on the education system.
The president pointed to the fact that fear of abduction and accompanying traumatic experiences from school children who have been victims of kidnapping has forced many children of school age to stay out of school, thereby increasing the problem of out-of-school children.
The president who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, at the fourth international conference on safe schools declaration, in Abuja, on Tuesday, made reference to a report released by SB Morgen which revealed that a total of 1,462 learners and education personnel were abducted between December 1, 2019 and September 2021 in school-related abductions as well as home and community- related abductions of learners and teachers.
He said the highest number of abduction in a single kidnap (327 learners) was recorded in Zamfara State, while Kaduna State has experienced the greatest number of incidences of attack on education.
‘Out of 19 educational institutions attacked, 12 (63%) were secondary schools while five (26%) were within the tertiary educational system,’ he said.
‘Non-formal education was not spared from the attacks as about 200 students of Islamiyya school, Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, were reportedly abducted on Sunday, 30th May, 2021. Sadly the life of one learner was lost.
‘Similarly, a total of 17 teachers and learners have been lost in these abductions. For learners currently in school, the fear and trauma created by having their fellow students and friends attacked, has impacted negatively on the quality of schooling as concentration and attention span for learning in such conditions have certainly waned.
‘There are more than 12 million children currently traumatised and afraid of going to school, especially the girl child, and I must tell you that it has been tough dealing with these security challenges and their effect.
‘However, our faith in our nation is unshaken. We have been strong, determined and robust in order to enhance the security of learning institutions and the occupants therein.’
He assured Nigerians that government is mindful of the fact that, to record adequate achievements in the education sector, the system would require a total overhaul introducing necessary changes required to improved education system.
Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who represented the minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, in his remarks, observed that attacks in public schools appears to be endless and reoccurring.
He confirmed that most of the abducted students were released after ransom was allegedly paid, while some were killed and others who were rescued or survived in most cases, became traumatised.
He said the conference on safe schools is apt and timely in view of the prevailing security challenges being witnessed in schools.
‘It’s my belief that the outcome of this conference will help to strengthen and protect the educational system in Nigeria and be a win for, not just Nigeria but for the global community as well.
‘It’s also my utmost belief that Nigeria will leverage on the best practices in implementing safe schools declarations, utilise new opportunities of collaborations to establish preventive measures and response mechanisms,’ he said.