At least seven states in the northern fraction of Nigeria have shut schools in conseqence of worsening banditry and abductions in the last two months.
Experts said this might worsen the out of school children figures in Nigeria which UNICEF puts at 10.5 million. But this is different from the school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seven states include Yobe, Zamfara, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto.
Findings revealed while some states had closed down only boarding schools, others were Kearny to have shut all schools, including private ones, that were located in local government areas considered seriously prone to banditry/insurgency bursts.
Figures collected across many reports indicated that a minimum of 768 students had been abducted by bandits within the space of 78 days.
This is further broken down to comprises 344 schoolchildren of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katisna on December 11, 2020; 80 pupils of Islamiyya School, Mahuta, Katsina on December 20, 2020; 27 boys at GSS College, Kangara, Niger State on February 17, 2021; and 317 schoolgirls of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State, last Thursday who are still in captivity.
Aside the recent abductions, 112 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok, Borno State in 2014 are still trapped as captives of Boko Haram, this alongside one pupil from Dapchi, Yobe State, Leah Sharibu.
However, based on reports, Zamfara is the worst affected, with all its boarding schools shut till further notice, based upon the directive of state governor Bello Matawalle who shut the schools last Friday.
The following day, Saturday, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State ordered 10 schools based in the outskirts of the shut down. By Sunday, Ganduje extended the order to include five health training institutions in the state.
On the same Sunday, the state government in Your directed boarding school students to go home in the midst of fears of imminent Boko Haram attack. Government however exempted only SS3 students.
Katsina State, where the Kankara schoolboys were abducted also shut all boarding schools on December 13, 2020. The state, which shares boundaries with Zamfara State, however, announced that its schools would re-open on Tuesday.
Governor Abubakar Bello shut boarding schools in four local government areas last week in Niger state where the Kangara schoolboys were abducted.
Sokoto State, which shares borders with Zamfara State, has also shut 16 boarding schools along its borders, while both Kaduna and Jigawa states have had to shut some schools in the last two months due to banditry.
In a chat with journalists, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Emmanuel Hwande, who called on the government to improve security around schools, said the rising cases of banditry and closure of schools could increase the number of out-of-school children or derail the academic progress of pupils.
He spoke: “When a teacher goes to school and is not guaranteed of his safety, it will affect his performance. Schools being shut down completely will impact negatively on the education sector, the system.
“The number of out-of-school children will continue to rise because parents whose children are back from bandits will begin to think otherwise and will not want them to go to school. The children will then begin roaming the streets and in the future, these children will be recruited into criminal activities.”
UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, had last week expressed sadness over the incessant kidnapping of students, describing it as a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through," he said.