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Out-of-school children: Herdsmen attacks raise fresh fear

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Out-of-school children: Herdsmen attacks raise fresh fear
  • ASUU: Govt has no reliable strategic plan for education

 

 

The quest of children in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states for education seems to be threatened following the incessant Fulani herdsmen attacks on some communities in the states, which have forced many schools to close down

 

The fate of over 10,000 primary and secondary school pupils and students in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba States to acquire qualitative education like their counterparts in other states of the federation seems to be threatened. No thanks to the incessant attacks by the Fulani herdsmen that have continue to ravage the states, leaving many people dead and several communities destroyed.

The students and their parents, who are now taking refuge at various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, were said to have deserted their communities for fear of being mowed down by the armed herdsmen.

The most affected communities in Benue and Nasarawa States are Tiv communities of Awe, Keana and Doma Local Government Areas, where over 7,000 children in both primary and secondary schools have been forced out of school. Following the displacement, schools in the areas have since been abandoned by the teachers and students, while some of the school premises have been converted to IDP camps. Investigations by New Telegraph indicated that over 4,000 school children affected mostly in Tiv communities were forced out of school as a result of the crisis that rocked the communities in Keana and Doma Local Government Areas alone.

This unfortunate incident, ac-cording to stakeholders, is coming at a time when the country is reportedly winning the battle against the out-ofschool- children with the figure currently standing at 8.6 million instead of the 10.5 million it was between 2015 and 2017.

Lamenting their ordeal, some of the parents, who spoke to New Telegraph during the visit to some of the IDPs camps located at Awe, Keana and Kadarko, lamented how the attacks have forced their children out of school.

They, however, called on both the state and Federal Government to rescue the situation by providing adequate security in their communities so that they could return home to enable their children go back to schools. Already, about 285,000 children in Taraba State, according to the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Johanes Jigem, were currently out-of-school. But with the crisis of the herdsmen attacks on some communities in the state, the figure would have risen astronomically.

Jigem, who gave the statistic in Jalingo at the flag-off of the State Education Programme Investment Project-Additional Financing, which is a World Bank assisted programme for schools in the north east, also added that the state government had established additional 65 Government Day Junior Secondary Schools across the state to absorb the out-of-schoolchildren. Some of the school children, who spoke with New Telegraph, also expressed dismay over their predicament and appealed to the state and Federal Government to secure their lives and return them to schools.

The Education Secretary (ES) for Awe Local Government Area in Nasarawa State, Mr. Sale Abubakar Kenje confirmed to New Telegraph that about 3,000 primary school pupils in the local government have been forced out of school as a result of the herdsmen/ farmers conflict. Kenje noted that the location of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in some pubic primary schools in the areas would not hinder academic activities in the schools. In his reaction, the Registrar/ Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Olusegun Ajiboye said; “It is true that the herdsmen attacks is a fresh challenge to the war towards sustaining the reduction in the figure of the out-of-school-children, especially in the northern part of the country, but I can assure Nigerians that the government is leaving no stone unturned to arrest the situation.”

He said in the past few weeks, government has doubled efforts to permanently tackle the insecurity issues in the country, adding that; “I can tell you that so many initiatives of the new administration is yielding good results.” Ajiboye further explained; “Let’s begin with the Shangai education system; the increasing tempo of the Almajiri education system, the school feeding project, and the depletion of the Boko Haram insurgency; all these combined have actually reduced the number of out-of-school children from 10.5 million to 8.6 million. “Also, since more teachers are getting professionalised, the more they are committed.

This is because the teacher factor is very crucial not just to the enrolment of the children in schools, but also their retention. If a teacher is not competent and is working without adequate incentives, you can be sure of the poor attitude of such teacher to work. But, because of the improved profesionalisation, more teachers are beginning to be committed to teaching, even in the rural areas.” Meanwhile, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi described the situation in the states as antithetical to education development.

He said: “Forget all the statistics being bandied around; they are fake and are meant to placate the people, especially at a time the general elections are around the corner. The reality does not support the reduction in the number of out-of-schoolchildren. “And if you ask me, I will tell you we cannot have less than 15 million Nigerian children out of school.

All the indices support these facts; even outside the Northern region, where the herdsmen or the Boko Haram are sending the people out of school in droves, the South- West has also degenerated to the region of school dropouts.

“Today, the southwest states that used to pride themselves as the home of free education now have many of schoolaged children hawking during school hours. This is simply because the developmental fees introduced in the schools are not affordable to the people and teachers’ salaries are not paid as at when due.

“Therefore, the phenomenon of out-of-school-children is a reflection of the general crisis in the country. This is a country without adequate planning for the people, be they young or old. And because of that, we are governed by the rules of the tongue. You see, unlike in the early ‘60s when we used to have developmental plans, now what we have is what they call strategic plans and they only put some statistics together to placate the people.” Ogunyemi, however, wondered that today, government at all levels merely roll out plans that do not match the philosophies and goals of the nation.

“If we look at Chapter 2, Section 18 of the Constitution, we would notice the objectives of the country’s education, but these objectives have been neglected by the government due largely to the influence of the imperialist, whose interests is mainly to advance their selfish interest,” the ASUU leader explained.

However, with the deployment of the men of the Nigerian Army and Police to the troubled states, some stakeholders have expressed optimism that there is hope that normalcy would soon return to the states’ education system.

This was as the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) disclosed that it had registered about 80,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across four camps located in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of the state.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr. Emmanuel Shior, had said that the agency arrived at the figure during its manual registration of the IDPs in the two local government areas. The IDPs were at the government approved camps at Daudu, Tse-Ginde, Gbajimba all in Guma and Ugba in Logo local councils.

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