By Grace Udofia
As more than 37 million Nigerian children start the new school year this month, at least one million of them are afraid to return to school due to insecurity, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stated.
According to a report on its website published on Thursday, UNICEF noted that the resumption day of school is now indefinitely postponed for at least one million Nigerian students.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, explained that learners are being cut off from their education and other vital benefits schools provide, 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 over the last several months and the current climate of insecurity.
“So far this year, there have been 20 attacks on schools in Nigeria, with 1,436 children abducted and 16 children dead. More than 200 children are still missing.
“A child’s first day of school should be an exciting event for parents and children – a landmark moment in their young lives, signaling new learning and new friends that will impact their futures.
“This moment is being stolen from around a million Nigerian children this year, as insecurity threatens their safety and education.
“It is unacceptable that communities should be worried to send their children to school over fears they will be abducted from what should be a safe space.
“It is unacceptable that children need to fear returning to their friends and classrooms – and that parents are afraid that if they send their children to school, they may never return.
“This insecurity must end so that children can return to their normal lives and benefit from all the important things being in school brings to them,” UNICEF said.