Boko Haram attacks keep Nigerian children out of school | Africa | DW | 04.05.2012
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Africa

Boko Haram attacks keep Nigerian children out of school

More than ten thousand children in northeast Nigeria are unable to attend school following violent attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Northern Nigeria.

In a message posted on the Internet, a Boko Haram spokesman calling himself Abu Qaqa said the group is attacking schools in northern Nigeria in retaliation for an assault on a Koran school by soldiers. He claimed Nigerian soldiers had beaten pupils with canes.

"When you attack Koran schools, you totally destroy western schools," his message said.

There is no independent confirmation of whether the incident in the Koran school took place.

Western education is a sin

Local officials remove the body of a victim from the back of a bus, in front of Aminu Kano teaching hospital in Nigeria's northern city of Kano April 29, 2012. Gunmen killed at least 15 people and wounded many more on Sunday in an attack on a university theatre being used by Christian worshippers in Kano, a northern Nigerian city where hundreds have died in Islamist attacks this year. REUTERS/Stringer(NIGERIA - Tags: CRIME LAW RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The body of a victim of the attack on Bayero University is removed from a bus

However, Boko Haram has so far burnt down more than a dozen primary schools in northern Nigeria.

In addition, in late April, more than 16 people were killed in attack on two Sunday services at Bayero University. The administrative block of Gombe State University was destroyed during an earlier attack.

Boko Haram's campaign of attacking places of learning is consistent with its credo that western education is a sin - the group only recognizes the ancient form of Koranic education.

In traditional Koran schools, pupils receive no formal education but spend their days memorizing the Koran. Such schools are common in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram has its stronghold.

Educationalist Rotimi Eyitayo points out that the campaign to shut down western-oriented schools could act as a catalyst for breeding future generations of Islamist militants.

Pupils at a Koran school

Pupils at a Koran school in Nigeria

"Those who stop going to school don't get educated - they become a menace," he said.

Security resources stretched

Tosin Jegede, the founder and program director of an organisation that helps children to go to school, said urgent steps have to be taken to protect children's right to go to school. The denial of such rights has serious implications for children and for the country, she said.

There is growing concern that if Boko Haram attacks against education institutes in the country escalate further then there will not be enough security resources to protect schools adequately.

Author: Sam Olukoya, Lagos /sh
Editor: Asumpta Lattus

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