Chibok and Dapchi: Girl-child education takes a hit as students remain missing

 
Thu Jun 7th, 2018 - Borno
 

• Leah will return home – Lagos lawmaker
• President Buhari silent about issue in Democracy Day speech
…As stakeholders x-ray effects of abductions

By Ebun Sessou & Josephine Agbonkhese

Education is a basic human right and has been recognised as such since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Also, education of the girl- child has been described as a means of achieving speedy, all-round development in any society. This is because girl-child education, apart from equipping girls with skills, values and competence needed for survival, also functions as a silver bullet for empowerment and progress in any nation.

Unfortunately, while Nigeria has continued to grapple with the challenge of achieving Education for All with an out-of-school rate of over 10.5 million – the world’s highest, continued attacks on the country’s schools by insurgents and abductors may have that out-of-school figure doubled in no time.

Cross section of released Chibok girls Photo by Abayomi ADESHIDA

Girl-child education

Sadly, the worst hit and no thanks to insurgency in the North-East, is girl-child education with risks becoming too high, and girls who were once excited about attending school giving up gradually on education.

“Over 5.5 million girls of school age are out of school in Nigeria; that’s over one third of all girls in the country. Net enrolment rate for girls at primary level is 5 per cent lower than for boys; gross enrolment at junior secondary school level follows this trend. Both figures hover around 50 per cent. This falls far short of the target of Sustainable Development Goals,” corroborated Prof. Lilian Salami, Director-General, National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, NIEPA.

Attacks on girls’ school

This ugly trend started with the abduction of 276 female students from Chibok, a town in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, on the night of 14th/15th April, 2014. Although some of them were rescued, yet 113 girls remain unaccounted for.

Many parents are still nursing their wounds from that single attack and since then too, some nefarious persons have seen abduction as a means of making quick money. Consequently, on the 29th of February, 2016, Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary in Lagos State was visited by some hoodlums and three girls were abducted. They were only released after a massive manhunt. The incident repeated itself at the Lagos Model College, Igbonla, Epe as four students, a vice-principal and a teacher were kidnapped at about 8am on 6th October, 2016; although male students were victims here.

Barely two months to the fourth year anniversary of the infamous Chibok school girls’ abduction, Nigerians were again jolted with the news of the abduction of 110 female students from the Government Girls Technical School, Dapchi, Yobe State. While 109 of these were returned to Dapchi town in the most outrageous manner with the insurgents relaxed enough to take selfies with community members and advising them to never let their girls return to school otherwise they will be abducted and never returned, one of the victims, Leah Sharibu, has since then been denied freedom by the insurgents for her refusal to convert to Islam.

‘I’m not going back to school’

Interestingly, the 109 Dapchi school girls who have been released, are so demoralised that many of them are finding returning to school a tall order. In fact, one of them, Mariam Mohammed Miko, 15, reportedly said though she hoped to be a health technologist to be able to help her community, she was no longer returning to school.

Similarly, Fatima Mohammed Bilau, 15, the 10th child in a family of 27, shared similar fears about returning to school, stressing that for now, she had given up on education.

On her part, Yagana Mustapha, 14, also said she would only return to school if government provides adequate security.

“I will go back to school. But let the government protect us; let government provide security,” she said.

Stakeholders

Afraid that this development may pose great danger to girl-child education, stakeholders have noted that to encourage more children and parents to say yes to education again, there is need to place premium on school safety and security.

Mr. Tunde Braimoh, member representing Kosofe II in the Lagos State House of Assembly, reiterated the need for the Federal Government to consider rehabilitating the released Dapchi girls the same way the Chibok girls were rehabilitated.

“It is just natural for the girls to panic. I think the Federal Government should have rehabilitated those girls the way the Chibok girls were rehabilitated when they were released. These Dapchi school girls have been traumatised and they would need comprehensive rehabilitation to heal.

The government should spare no cost in bringing the girls back to life because they are victims of the failed system. Government should do everything possible to bring them back to life.

“Apart from that, there is need to improve the education of the girl-child in the North. There is need to champion the emancipation of the girl-child in the North,” he said.

No mention in Democracy Day Speech

On Leah Sharibu, about whom many already fear government has totally forgotten particularly as no mention of her was made in President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day speech; Braimoh said security issues are not to be discussed on the pages of newspapers. “There is a goal to rescue the girl alive. Therefore, irrational approach should not be considered in rescuing the abducted girl. I am optimistic that Leah Sharibu will come to us safe,” he said.

Special fund for girls’ education

Meanwhile, Mrs Titilope Akosa, Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues in Lagos, said that government had a responsibility to urgently tackle issues of security and school safety.

“We must ensure that our schools are safe enough for our children. They must not be exposed to the threat of being kidnapped all the time or some other forms of violence against them. We are using this medium to call on government to ensure adequate security in schools and the nation at large. A lot of people are dying as a result of conflicts happening within communities. It is the responsibility of government to secure our lives and property.”

Akosa also advocated for the establishment of a special fund for the education of all girls in the country, suggesting that there should be adequate interaction with parents and children to encourage them to embrace education.

School safety

On his part, Ehi Iden, CEO, Occupation Health and Safety Managers, noted that each of the incidents showed that abductors took advantage of the near lack of security in each of the schools. Those that entered the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary broke through the perimeter fence, while in the case of the Lagos Model College, Igbonla, they strolled in through the gate during morning assembly. This calls for tightened security in all schools across the country. Otherwise, it may be difficult to erase fear from the minds of parents and children.”

Buttressing Ehi’s view, Braimoh, added that there was also need for residents of the six geo-political zones in he country to assist government in fighting crime in Nigeria.

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source: Vanguard