By Patience Michael,
No fewer than 400,000 children especially girls in North East have been denied access to education following the destruction of 1,500 schools in the region by insurgents.
The founding Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr Abiola Akiyode Afolabi, disclosed this at a town hall meeting on promoting security and safety of schools in Bauchi State held at Zaranda Hotel, Bauchi.
Afolabi said that WARDC with support from the United Nations Democracy (UNDEF) and in partnership with Forward in Action for Education, Poverty and Malnutrition (FACEPAM), was addressing factors and issues that have continued to affect the safety of students and teachers in the region.
"Bauchi State has not been left of the attacks on education. In April 2014, the staff quartres and school bus of the GGSS Yana were burnt. Another girls school, GGSS Tafawa Balewa, had to be closed and the students distributed to other schools for fear of possible attack on the school. Let us not forget the kidnapping of of over 200 girls from GGSS Chibok Borno State on April 14, 2014," she said.
According to her, five schools were used for military purposes in Bauchi State by Boko Haram while three were used by the Nigerian security forces since April 2014.
Afolabi called for policy direction by government and urgent intervention on security and safety by stakeholders.
She said that many schools were porous and unprotected as safety had not been priotised or utterly neglected and faced with low community support and ownership of schools by communities in which they are located.
Afolabi said, "In the light of the insurgency, education continues to bear a major burnt as it has been a major focus of the attack. These attacks include violence against major educational facilities, students and education personnel.
“Sadly, such attacks and threats of attack, cause severe and long lasting harm to individuals and societies".
She lamented that the voices of the communities and school users have not been heard, saying that WARDC is working to address the challenge of safety and security in schools in Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
"All over the country and especially in the communities and states in distress, where education is under threat; there are no existing models for safe and secure schools to borrow from while "communities are weak and therefore unable to respond appropriately to challenges that threaten the education and future of their children.
"There are also no dialogue or engagement between communities, CSOs, other stakeholders, no existing structures measures to guarantee the safety and security of school children by providing practical guidelines and plans of action in the face of attacks."