Nigeria can't afford to leave incessant attacks on schools unaddressed - UN

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon

By Busayo Onijala

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has condemned the incessant attacks on schools and kidnappings that had affected hundreds of children in the country.

This was part of his message commemorating the 2021 International Day to Protect Education from Attack, in which he described the attacks on schools as a direct attack on Nigeria’s future generations.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Day aimed at raising awareness of the plight of children in conflict-affected areas, growing up without access to education.

He said that such attacks were traumatic for the children, undermined their individual dignity and could lead the affected families to withdraw them from education completely.

According to him, whenever teaching and learning is disrupted, the impact on human capital development is enormous as the recovery period is always tortuous and longer than the length of the initial disruption.

“Nigeria cannot afford to leave the situation of incessant attacks on schools unaddressed because children are traumatised, parents are scared, and teachers and school administrators are afraid.

“These attacks on schools are gradually spreading to areas not known to insurgencies. With education under attack, the collective future of Nigeria is under threat. This must stop now!,” Kallon said.

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He urged the government to review the progress made in implementing the Safe Schools’ declaration and fully put into practice commitments made in the 2019 ratification, by taking decisive actions to protect education from attack.

With over 10 million children already out of school, conflict has aggravated the situation and deeply affected the prospects of many young people, especially the most vulnerable ones.

“In the last academic year, it is estimated that 1.3 million children have been impacted by attacks or abductions in schools in Nigeria.

“Across the North-East region alone, over 600,000 children remain out-of-school and some 1.1 million need educational support to stay in school.

“This has all been compounded by the setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Kallon noted that UNICEF had been working hard to expand the availability of classrooms and teachers in Nigeria’s most conflict-affected regions.

“Education is a fundamental human right, one that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is an essential driver for fostering peace, promoting just societies, and supporting sustainable development.

“I call on the Federal and state Governments to do more to protect schools from attacks and ensure that teaching and learning were made safe and conducive in all schools in Nigeria,” he said.