Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

Boko Haram forced 1 million children out of school - UNICEF

Due to attacks by Islamist group, Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries, more than one million children are reported to have been forced out of school, the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, has said.

In a statement made available to our correspondent, UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Director, Manuel Fontaine, said the development has heightened the risk faced by these children to abuse, abduction or recruited by armed groups.  

UNICEF, however, said the conflict has forced more than 2,000 schools to close in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, adding that some have been looted or set on fire by the insurgent group. 

According to Fontaine, "The conflict has been a huge blow for education in the region and violence has kept many children out of the classroom for more than a year, putting them at risk of dropping out of school altogether." 

He further stated that "Before the crisis, an estimated 11 million children of primary school age were already out of school in the four neighbouring countries where Boko Haram stages attacks. 

"Hundreds of schools in North eastern Nigeria have reopened in recent months, but many classrooms are overcrowded or are used as shelter for those displaced. Temporary learning spaces are being set up, but security remains a challenge." 

Fontaine further said "Insecurity also prevents teachers from going back to classes and about 600 teachers have been killed during Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency. The challenge we face is to keep children safe without interrupting their schooling. 

"The schools have been targets of attack, so children are scared to go back to the classroom, yet the longer they stay out of school, the greater the risks of being abused, abducted and recruited by armed groups."

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