At least one million Nigerian children could miss school this year as the new term begins amid a rise in mass school kidnappings and insecurity, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.
“Learners are being cut off from their education… as families and communities remain fearful of sending children back to their classrooms due to the spate of school attacks and student abductions in Nigeria,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
More than 37 million Nigerian children are due to start the new school year this month, UNICEF said. An estimated eight million have had to wait for more than a year for in-person learning after schools were closed due to COVID-19 lockdown.
Several North-West states have tried to curb the spate of abductions by banning the sale of fuel in jerry cans and the transport of firewood in trucks in order to disrupt gangs who travel by motorbike and camp in remote places.
In Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the start of the school term has been pushed back to an unusually late date without explanation, after schools in nearby states were targeted by kidnappers seeking ransoms.