By Adesina Wahab
HOLDING the unenviable record of being home to the highest number of out-of-school children, OSC, about 15 million, and also regarded as the poverty capital of the world, Nigeria’s quest for economic and social growth will be further hampered if the trend of abduction of school children is not stopped now, stakeholders have said.
The mass abduction of school children started with the kidnap of students of Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014 and was followed by the abduction of over 110 school girls in Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018.
While over 100 of the Chibok girls are still missing, only Leah Sharibu, is still unaccounted for among the Dapchi girls. However, with the abduction of students in Government Science College, Kankara, Katsina State, last December and a repeat of the incident at the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, penultimate Wednesday, it is like the kidnap of students to bargain for certain things has come to stay in the country, a development that will adversely affect education, according to stakeholders.
A psychologist, Adeyemi Akinleye, explained that the trauma of being kidnapped is not only felt by the victim, but by many other people too. “To know how such a development would adversely affect people apart from the victim, let me give you this Yoruba proverb that says “one’s child being dead is better than one’s child being missing.” Apart from the victims, the effects on relatives, parents and others are also weighty. The victims would have been seriously traumatized no doubt and that will surely affect their perception of education and going back to school.
“Also, the incident may negatively affect other students too, whether in the same school or other schools. They may not feel safe in school. An unfortunate aspect of the development is that the schools being targeted are boarding schools that the government set up to be a sort of model schools and take some burdens off the parents.
“Now the boarding schools are being shut down, the parents and students are back to square one. The parents of the affected students will be in deep pain. The Chibok girls that are still missing, can one imagine how the parents have been coping for the past seven years? All the Dapchi girls have been freed except Leah Sharibu, let us put ourselves in her parents’ shoes, over three years and the girl is still missing. Unfortunately, all these terrible things are happening in a region where the literacy level is very low.
To convince parents to send their wards to school now may be difficult and such will have ripple effects on the country as a whole,” he submitted.
The National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, described as unfortunate a situation where innocent students have been turned to objects of merchandise by criminals.
“How do we want the parents to feel now? Students are now being used by criminals to bargain for freedom or make cheap money through ransom payment. In as much as we sympathise with the government, we want them to take the necessary steps and do the needful. Ugly incidents like this must be nipped in the bud and not allowed to be a recurring decimal in our society. Security in and around our schools must be beefed up and people should also help in intelligence gathering. If we continue to have ugly developments like this happening over and over again, many will lose interest in education,” he noted.
According to the Lagos State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Rotunda Adesina Adedoyin, human life is no longer valuable in the country. “What we are seeing is a reflection of the high level of insecurity in the country. Unfortunately, that has translated to the school environment now.
It is not only the students that are feeling threatened and unsafe, teachers too are feeling so. How do you get the best out of the teacher if he has to work in a state of fear?
“Something urgent must be done about the issue. A nation’s development is tied to its level of educational development. If those in the education sector are now traumatized to the point of not feeling safe in their beat, then we have a big problem on hand,” he said.
The Coordinator, South-West Zone of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Kappo Samuel Olawale, urged the government to put an end to the development as quickly as possible. “Nigerian youths want to be educated and be able to compete with their colleagues anywhere in the world, but that cannot be possible with these abductions of students every now and then. Students should feel safe in schools if we are not to discourage parents from sending their wards to school,” he said.