About thirty years ago, governments around the world adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, however, the right to an education is being violated in communities hit by conflict in West and Central Africa.
According to a report by UNICEF on the region in focus, right now, nearly two million children are being robbed of education in the region due to violence and insecurity in and around their schools.
The report titled ‘Education Under Threat In Central and West Africa’, reveals that in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, a surge in threats and attacks against students, teachers and schools – on education itself – is casting a foreboding shadow upon children, their families, their communities and society at large.
Below are more key facts as stated in the report by UNICEF.
1. The number of schools forced to close due to rising insecurity in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa tripled between the end of 2017 and June 2019.
As of June 2019, 9,272 schools were closed in the region, affecting more than 1.91 million children and nearly 44,000 teachers.
2. The increasing number of children forced out of school due to violence in West and Central Africa contributes to a total of 40.6 million primary and lower secondary school-aged children who are out of school in the region. About one in four children globally who need humanitarian support – including education and other services critical to learning – live in just 10 countries in West and Central Africa.
3. Nearly half of the schools closed across the region due to attacks, threats of attack and increasing violence are located in the northwest and southwest Cameroon; 4,437 schools there closed as of June 2019, pushing more than 609,000 children out of school.
4. More than 2,000 schools are closed in Burkina Faso, along with more than 900 in Mali, due to growing violence across both countries.
5. The number of schools closed due to violence in the four countries affected by crisis in the Lake Chad Basin – Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – stayed at roughly the same high level, varying only from 981 to 1,054, between the end of 2017 and June 2019.
6. Between April 2017 and June 2019, the countries of the central Sahel – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to violence, from 512 to 3,005.
Note: References to school closures include schools closed or non-operational.
Sources of data: Ministries of Education, humanitarian partners and UNICEF.
READ ALSO: Education, The Way To Overcome Poverty – Buhari
UNICEF’S A Call To Action
More than ever, governments today must reaffirm their commitment to protecting education from attack and providing the resources needed to help their youngest citizens to keep learning.
Now is the time for renewed efforts to make sure the potential of a generation of young people is not wasted.
In a bid to stop attacks and threats against schools, students, teachers, and other school personnel in West and Central Africa – and to support quality learning for every child in the region, governments, armed forces, and other parties to conflict and the international community must take concerted action.
Some of such actions include: