The United Nations has advised the federal government of Nigeria over plan to reopen schools across the country stating that a safe and secured environment should be provided for students.
The UN utterly condemned attacks on education including abductions of school children, school-related gender-based violence, herders-farmers clashes, and repurposing of schools for use as COVID-19 isolation centres, IDP camps, markets or for military purposes in Nigeria.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in a statement to commemorate the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, expressed concerns that incessant attacks on schools and learners could significantly reverse the gains on education investments made by government of Nigeria, the UN, and other multilateral, bilateral, and private sector partners over years.
He said: “As the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youths in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact. We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future.”
UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, in his submissions said, “Our collective future, as well as the achievements of all development goals, depend on safe school for our children.
“So safeguarding the right to education for all contributes to the achievement of sustainable development and nurtures the international community’s decades-long gains towards peace, economic prosperity, and social inclusion worldwide.’’
On his side, the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said that attacks on schools are violation of humanity and basic decency, calling on countries of the world not to allow the senseless attacks to destroy the hopes and dreams of a generation of children.
“As the world begins plan to re-open schools once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we must ensure that schools remain safe places of learning, even in countries in conflict.
We must do all in our powers to ensure that schools and the children and teachers within them are protected,” he said.
The UN, however, observed that the protracted conflict in north-east Nigeria has had devastating impacts on education. It said that available data indicated that from 2009 until December 2018, no fewer than 611 teachers were killed, 910 schools damaged or destroyed, more than 1,500 schools forced to close, and some 4.2 million children in the north-east at risk of missing out on basic education.
Additionally, it said that hundreds of girls have been abducted, some even from their own schools, which are meant to be safe zones. It insisted that the attacks on schools, communities, and ex education itself are tragic consequences of a protracted conflict that has left a generation of children traumatized.