By Sanji Bernadette
The United Nation Children’s agency in a recent report says about 1.9 Million children are out of school in west and central Africa because of upsurge in attacks and threats of violence against education across the region.
As of June 2019, 9272 schools were not functioning in Cameroon, Chad, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic and Nigeria due to insecurity three times the number recorded at the end of 2017.
UNICEF Assistant Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan recently made a trip to Mali to witness the impact of rising insecurity and violence on children’s education and society.
“Here in Mopti, we have met with many displaced children who actually access temporary education. It’s obvious here that education means a lot to them, but also the real challenge and appalling situation. Because what we know is that,over 900 schools have been closed down” said Gornitzka.
Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger all in the central Sahel have witnessed a six fold increase in school closures because of attacks and threats of violence in just over two years from 512 in April 2017 to 3005 in June 2019.
There are many children and young people who give up on education because of violence. But the irony is the children are so inspiring and so courageous hence deserve to go to school because they know education is the lifeline which can help them and protect them from many societal ills like drug abuse and sexual exploitation.
But you cannot learn when you are afraid Almellehan added. UNICEF is working with communities, education authorities to support alternative learning opportunities which are community learning centres, radio school programmes and technology to enable students continue learning.