The republic of Niger has moved nearly 100 schools to safer zones due to imminent attacks from jihadist group, Boko Haram.
The programme was launched in November 2015 and has seen nearly 6000 pupils moved to enable them to continue their education. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that it has enabled precisely 2784 boys and 3129 girls to resume lessons.
The Boko Haram insurgents have wrecked enormous havoc in West Africa, especially in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. Although the attacks are more concentrated in Nigeria, there have been frequent cross-boarder attacks especially in the regions in Niger that are close to the Nigerian border. This has made internal security relatively low in Niger.
Boko Haram which technically means ‘western education/non-islamic education is a sin’ has made educational institutions one of its major targets, especially primary and secondary. The attacks led many schools in vulnerable areas to close down, often with teachers deserting the students.
The programme began as a result of the impact of the Boko Haram attacks in areas that are close to the Nigerian border on the students and schools there. In November, the Niger government partnered with UNICEF to officially close down these schools.
The Prime Minister of Niger, Brigi Rafini explained that the purpose of the relocation was to “take charge of these pupils” in the most exposed areas and “shelter them from Boko Haram aggression”
With education being a priority in Niger, the government chooses not to deprive the students of the chance to learn. Although this is a good move by the government, the OCHA has regrettably stated that the plan to get more children back in school is being obliterated by internal displacement caused by the attacks from the jihadist group.