GUEST COLUMNIST

BANDITRY ATTACKS ON SCHOOLS: EDUCATION GOING THROUGH ‘MERCY Killing’

KILLING’ By Isaac Ochegbudu 
I had decided not to write or publicly discuss about Nigeria for the mean time, but whenever I sit down to think about the condition of our country, I’m filed with pity for our country and always tempted to pick up my pen to put down my thoughts. 
The pathetic plight of education in our country today moved me to pen this piece. This evening, information reached me that the Niger state Government has ordered all schools in the state to be shutdown and exchange students from Kaduna state will be sent back tomorrow.  Earlier today, I had also seen a circular with  instruction that all schools under Kajuru local government area of Kaduna state should be closed down till further notice for security reasons.
I have always quoted Peter Snelson for his words on education. According to Snleson “education is a necessary condition for human survival” These words of Snelson depicts how much important education is for every human being and the society at large. Any society that wants to survive must value education and invest in it heavily.
The challenges that bedevil the education sector in Nigeria is numerous and multifaceted. This sector suffers a lot amongst other sectors of the Nigerian society. It suffers from poor investment, confused curriculum, poor funding, perennial strikes, wrong policies etc. These challenges and more contribute to slowly kill education at all levels in Nigeria.
It is sad that the country has not been able to combat the above mentioned challenges and more that confront the education system in Nigeria. Sad still, it is the poor masses that are at the receiving end. The children of most of the well-offs are in standard private schools both at home and abroad, which the poor can’t afford. The attention given to the education sector by the government is poor. It is in fact one of the most neglected.
As the country and especially the poor masses tries to battle this challenges in their own way, the most striking is happening, as the  intensified security challenges of the country has not also left the education sector behind. 
Recently, there have been incessant attacks on schools in the northern part of the country by armed bandits . As the banditry enterprise becomes more profitable for the bandits, they see schools as the easiest target to get quick funds. Sadly the north is the most left behind region in terms of education with poor standard of education, gross illiteracy and million out of school children. Also the insecurity challenge is more intensified in the north.
Right from the Abduction of the Chibok Girls in 2014 and the series of attacks on schools by the Boko Haram sect in the past years, the education system in the north is insecure and porous.. The attacks on schools subsided for a while and has now resurfaced recently, as bandits find it easier to get abductees from schools.  These recent attacks on schools in the north by bandits  shows clearly without doubt that it is by implication the extension of Boko Haram ideology by these bandits.
The implication of these happenings is that, it has created serious panic and fear amongst teachers, students and parents. The school in the north now is associated with panic and fear. No one feels secure around the school and by extension,  the implication is that the death of education is fast tracked by the venom of insecurity. I’m presently doing my NYSC  as a teacher in an all girls boarding school here in Kaduna and I tell you my mind has never been at rest since the recent school children abductions in neighboring sates, the unrest grew intense since the attack on airport quarters few days ago and worse since the banditry attack on Turkish International School Kaduna was foiled by the military and the abduction of the students of Federal College Of Forestry Mechanization, the attempted attack on  Science secondary school Ikara and yesterday at a primary school in Brinin Gwari, all of which happened within three days. There is great panic and fear amongst parents, teachers and students.
As the banditry enterprise becomes more profitable in the north, schools become soft and easy targets and various forms of insecurity also intensify in the North, some of the states are closing down schools and the insecurity is getting worse. This has a lot of negative consequences for students in the North and the educational sector as a whole. The already shaky foundation of education in the north is receiving fatal blows at this time. Education in the north is going through ‘mercy killing’ and if nothing is done quickly to arrest the situation, education in the north will be buried very soon.
It is sad that most northerners do not see things from this angle. The northerners must wake up to see things as its going bad and it’s implication on its future. They must wake up and find a lasting solution to this pitiable condition.
Isaac Ochegbudu is a public affairs analyst. Isaacochegbudu@gmail.com
08106194657, 09047416032

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