NIGERIA: Parents Appeal To Government To Re-Open Schools In Boko Haram Plagued State

Parents in Borno on Monday appealed to the State Government to re-open Public Secondary Schools closed in March 2014, following suspected Boko Haram attacks in schools in neighbouring Yobe.

A cross section of parents who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Maiduguri expressed concern over the continued closure of the schools.

Malam Modu Fallata, a parent who resides at Bulumkutu, expressed sadness over the closure of the schools.

“Five out of my 16 children are secondary school students studying in public schools in Maiduguri.

“These five children have been staying at home for the past 15 months, without going to school, for no fault of theirs,” Fallata said.

He said most parents had transferred their children to private schools following the prolonged public school closure.

“Most people have either moved their children to other states or transferred them to private schools, to continue their education.

“But some of us have sent our children to relatives who live outside the state,” Fallata said.

He added, “It is so sad that we do not have money to transfer them to private schools.

“So the children are forced to stay at home doing nothing,” he said.

Fallata said the problem was capable of turning the children into petty thieves, due to bad influence.

Malam Mada Abdul, a resident of London-Ciki, corroborated the claim, saying that many students have turned to drug addicts, due to lack of schools.

“Many students have resorted to taking drugs in my area because of the bad influence of their friends.

“Even girls are not left out as some of them have also taken to drug use, to seek solace for their problems,” Abdul said.

He said that the best thing was for government to re-open the schools, to avoid further damage.

“I think that government has a responsibility to ensure the proper upbringing of our children by doing the right thing.

“Government should re-open the schools without further delay, to allow the students to return to their classes,” Abdul said.

Alhaji Hassan Zannah, a teacher, commended the recent military efforts in combating the insurgents, saying that it was time for government to re-open the schools.

“The military has been able to flush out the insurgents from their strongholds.

“I believe that we have enough security for the schools to re-open now,” Zannah said.

Reacting, Alhaji Mohammed Kauji, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, said that the continued closure of the schools was a source of concern to the government.

“Government is seriously concerned with the continued closure of secondary schools in the state since March 2014.

“Although we have been able to re-open public primary schools in the state capital, secondary schools have remained closed,” Kauji said.

He explained that the schools had been converted to shelters for Internally Displaced Persons from about 20 out of the 27 local government areas  in the state.

“Presently, about 15 out of the 21 IDP camps in Maiduguri are located in schools.

“This makes it impossible for the schools to re-open for now,” Kauji said.

He said  government had expected that the IDPs would return home early so that the schools can re-open.

“We were thinking that the IDPs will be able to return home after the current military action against the insurgents.

“But the military action had led to a surge in the number of IDPs trooping to the camps,” Kauji said.

He said that some communities in Damboa and Benishiekh Council Areas were sacked by the suspected insurgents last week, after a military action at their hide out.

“Villagers in Benisheikh and Damboa were sacked last week by the insurgents fleeing from Alagarno and Sambisa forest.

“This has greatly increased the number of persons in the IDP camps,” Kauji said.

He said, however, that hope was not totally lost as the state government had constituted a high-powered committee on the IDPs.

“We are hoping that the committee will find a solution to the problems of the IDPs, so we can re-open the schools for students to go back,” Kauji said.

About 120, 000 IDPs are currently taking shelter in 22 IDP camps in Maiduguri.
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