The United Nation children’s agency, UNICEF in a new report says More than 1.9 million children have been forced out of school in West and Central Africa due to an upsurge in attacks and threats of violence against education across the region.
As of June 2019, 9,272 schools were closed in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria as a result of insecurity – tripling the number recorded at the end of 2017.
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan recently travelled to Mali to witness the impact of rising insecurity and violence on children’s education and safety.
Here in Mopti we have met with many displaced children who actually access temporary education.
“Here in Mopti we have met with many displaced children who actually access temporary education. It’s obvious here, one that education means a lot to them, but also the real challenge and appalling situation. Because what we know is that over 900 schools have been closed down,” Gornitzka said.
In the central Sahel, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to attacks and threats of violence in just over two years, from 512 in April 2017 to 3,005 in June 2019.
“There are so many children and young people who give up on education because of violence. I can tell you all those children are so inspiring, and so courageous, and they deserve to go to school because they know education is the lifeline which can help them and protect them of so many problems such as abuse and sexual exploitation. But you cannot learn when you are afraid,” Almellehan added.
UNICEF is working with education authorities and communities to support alternative learning opportunities including community learning centres, radio school programmes and technology to enable students continue learning.
Children in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa account for 1 in 4 children globally who need humanitarian support – including education and other services critical to learning.