The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says approximately 440 schools in Nigeria have been shut as of January 2024 due to recent violent attacks in the country.
Speaking on the 2024 International Day of Education, UNICEF Country Representative for Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said a total of 11,500 schools have been shut partially or tally since 2020.
“But as we speak today, we have approximately 440 schools which are kept close due to insecurity,” she stated in an interview with Arise TV’s News Day Programme.
Munduate urged the Nigerian government to take immediate measures to ensure the safety and continuity of education for millions of children, especially in the northern regions where insecurity and violence have disrupted learning.
“For the Nigerian context, we believe it is an urgent priority to look at as you have placed in the news the security is a need in the country, security is tied to peace, and peace is tied to quality learning and education. So it is a sort of circle where if you don’t have peace, you don’t have education and if you don’t have education, it will be difficult to reach peace,” she said.
Munduate urged states in Nigeria to implement the Safe Schools Declaration, an inter-governmental political commitment to protect education from attack and ensure safe and conducive learning environments.
She said only 18 states out of the country’s 36 states and the FCT have adhered to the declaration “but the progress is slow and uneven.”
“However, we did a study in a way to measure the level of accomplishment of achieving in terms of the standards and we found out that only 40% of the accessed schools really complied with the standard.
“So this is something that needs to be added as a priority among access to school and quality learning, thirdly should be safe schools and education in those geographical areas where we know school is forbidden for children due to insecurity,” she added.
The International Day of Education, celebrated on 24 January, is dedicated to the role of education in peace and development. The theme for 2024 “Learning for Lasting Peace” emphasises the transformative potential of education to foster a culture of peace and non-violence.