Increasing insecurity in North as threat to girl child education
Ever before now, the girl-child education in the North was not thriving as it was supposed to. This was due to several factors, majorly due to the Islamic traditions that often hamper the progression of the female folk.
With the advancement in technology and social developments in recent times, the situation appears to have improved. But with eruption of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria in 2009, especially in the North, the girl child education seemed to have come under serious threat.
The insurgents have since the commencement of their operations disrupted educational system in the North with destructive effects on the education of young girls. The northeast, comprising six states namely Adamawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Gombe, Yobe and Borno State are the worst hit. The region has faced a devastating trend of insurgency, terrorism and brutal killings of innocent citizens perpetrated by Boko Haram. The sect promotes a version of Islam, which declares Western education as haram. In other words, it forbids Muslims from taking part in any education, political or social activity associated with Western culture and civilization.
The embargo includes but not limited to Western education, voting in elections, and wearing of shirts and trousers. The terrorists continually kidnap schoolgirls, kill students and teachers, and execute Christian and Islamic clerics, who oppose their retrogressive doctrine. Massive destruction of school buildings and the use of teenage female suicide bombers are further demonstrations of the sect’s strong resentment against Western education.
This massive violence has kept a number of female children out of school. The UNICEF reports (2015) confirmed that one in every three primary school children and one in every four junior secondary school children are out of school in the northeast. The narratives show that in most traditional African settings, young girls’ education is dependent largely on encouragement from families, government’s provision of school instructional materials and safety of girls in school. The socialisation provided by the family is expected to be complemented by government through the provision of a safe and secured teaching and learning environment. But that is not the case in the region today. This is despite assurances by the security agencies and government at all levels. The frequent cases of kidnappings, abductions, killings and enlisting of girls of school age into bombing operations cripple this lofty aspiration.
The abduction in April 2014 of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram from Chibok town in Borno State brought to the climax the threat that insurgency posed to the promotion of girl child education in the North. While some of the abducted Chibok girls have been rescued or freed, others are still held captive. This is despite the sustained battle against the insurgents by the security forces.
Worrisome also was the recent abduction of over 100 schoolgirls at Dapchi Science College in Yobe State in broad daylight. Although, majority of the girls were later freed by the insurgents after negotiation was concluded, the insurgents warned the parents not to send their girl children to school again. It is observed that targeted for abduction by the sect are girls in boarding school in the North. With this, does it mean that girls in the region have to stop going to school or would continue to go to school at their own risk?
What should be rightly done to secure schools, especially in the North to ensure that the girl child education does not suffer another serious setback? This ugly situation calls for serious attention by all the critical stakeholders, governments and people of Nigeria, especially those in the North.