Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Implications of School Abductions in Northwest Nigeria

By Richard Dukpa Dambo

In less than a month, armed bandits have abducted 24 female students at Federal University Gusau, Zamfara state and 5 female students at Federal university Dutsinma, Katsina state. The abduction of students in Northwestern states of Nigeria has emerged as a deeply concerning and recurring issue in recent years. These incidences of abduction have far-reaching consequences on school enrollment rate in the region.

The abduction of school students in Northern Nigeria started more pronouncedly with the Chibok Girls school kidnap in the year 2014, in Borno state of Northeast Nigeria. At present, the incidences are now recurrent in Northwest Nigeria. The wave of these abductions threatens not only lives but also the education of young children. This has significantly affected the region’s school enrollment rates. Northern Nigeria has long struggled with educational challenges, including low enrollment rates, and the recurring abductions of school students exacerbate this problem. A 2022 UNESCO report noted that approximately 20 million Nigerian individuals of its approximately 200 million population are not enrolled in school. This amounts to 20 percent of Nigeria’s entire population and is more than the overall population of various countries in Africa.

Furthermore, UNESCO 2022 report said Nigeria holds unenviable position of being the country with largest population of out-of-school children. Northwestern states with 5 states out of 8 toping this chart. With Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and states housing most of Nigeria’s out-of-school children. Bauchi State had the most with (1, 239,759), Zamfara (883,952), Kebbi (877,677); Katsina (873,633); Kano (837,479), Jigawa (784,391), Kaduna (652,990) and Gombe (567,852) followed closely.

Immediate consequences of school abductions is the disruption of educational infrastructure. Schools are not patronized in conflict prone areas of the region, as students and teachers are forced to close or operate under a climate of fear. This disruption prevents children from accessing education, resulting in a decline in enrollment rates. Parents, fearing for their children’s safety, are often reluctant to send them to schools that have history of abductions.

In March 2021, primary and secondary schools in Birnin Gwari local government had to shut down following attacks on UBE Primary School Rama, where 3 teachers were abducted. As expected, the fear of abductions also affects teacher recruitment and retention in Northern Nigeria. Qualified teachers are hesitant to work in areas where abductions are prevalent, as they risk becoming victims themselves. This shortage of qualified educators further hampers educational opportunities for children in the region, ultimately lowering enrollment rates.

No doubt these frequent occurrences of school abductions contributes to a downturn of school enrollment perception in Northwest Nigeria. Parents and communities now see education as a risky endeavor rather than a pathway to a better future. This shift in perception has dissuade parents from prioritizing their children’s education, leading to decreased enrollment rates.

The long-term impact of reduced school enrollment rates in Northwest Nigeria is worrisome. A generation of children deprived of education is at risk of perpetuating cycles of poverty and underdevelopment. Addressing this insecurity issues are timely, to create safe spaces in schools and efforts to rebuild trust in the education system. Ultimately, ensuring the safety of students and promoting education which is essential for the region’s development.

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