African educators: all Nigerian students deserve safe schools and quality education
The relentless assault on Nigeria’s students, teachers and schools prompted the leader of one of the country’s education unions to call for a united response and an announcement of measures aimed at tackling the violence.
Ikpe J. Obong, General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of teachers (NUT), reported to participants at Education International’s (EI) 8th Africa Regional Conference, held from 4-6 February in Nairobi, Kenya, that about 240 teachers had been killed in an insurgency perpetrated by the terrorist group Boko Haram (which roughly translates as ‘western education is forbidden’ from the Hausa language).
“There is hope that the Nigerian government and military are now better placed to put an end to the insurgency,” said Obong.
In response to the violence, Obong confirmed that around 200 “Schools in boxes” have also been introduced. These are mobile tents and teaching materials and equipment used from place to place. The NUT also developed an insurgence support programme to distribute food to displaced persons, among other first help items.
He went on to remind the audience that 219 girls abducted from the Government College in Chibok, on 14 April 2014, have still not yet been recovered, and over about 400 students have been abducted in total.
About 200 teachers have taken refuge at the NUT premises and about 180 schools had been destroyed, as well as virtually all schools in the three most affected regions, and 30,000 teachers have been displaced, he added.
He detailed that, while some primary schools were open in some relatively peaceful places, no secondary schools were in session because they have been turned into camps for internally displaced persons. Also, the government has moved students into areas which are outside the conflict-affected states.
The EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen commended NUT for its outstanding role in supporting affected teachers and students and their families, and their involvement in the Safe Schools Initiative, aiming at piloting 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria and ensure each Nigerian child’s right to education, and supported by the UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown.