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The activities of the Islamic radical sect, Boko Haram has adversely affected Nigeria’s educational sector. This fact is not hidden as the name of the sect alone signifies a total outcry against education (western education) and schooling. Boko means “book or western learning in Hausa language and Haram means forbidden or sinful in Arabic language, thus the group’s name alone is a campaign against western education and schooling. Nigeria’s education sector at all level is suffering as a result of the current prevailing security situation in the north, a region where school enrolment has been the lowest in Nigeria.
The sect’s activities have affected Nigeria’s educational sector in the following ways; •The sect’s activity has led to destruction of school buildings and other academic facilities •It has led to death of academic experts •It has led to exodus of academic experts and shortage of qualified teaching manpower in northern Nigeria •It has led to distraction and diversion of government’s attention from the educational sector •It has led to complete disruption of academic calendar in the region.
So far this year, 15 schools have been burnt down in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno State, forcing over 700 children out of formal education and pushing down enrolment rates in an already ill – educated region. The Islamic Boko Haram group is widely blamed for the attacks but the reality seems to be more complex. Both public and private schools in Maiduguri have been doused with gasoline at night and set on fire. Crude homemade bombs and soda bottles filled with gasoline have been hurled at the bare bones concrete classrooms Nigeria offers its children.
The simple yellow facades have been blackened and the plain desks method to twisted pipes, leaving thousands of children without a place to learn, stranded at home and underfoot, while anxious parents plead with Nigerians authorities to come up with a contingency plan for their education. In a video posted on You Tube in February 2012, Boko Haram called on its follows to destroy schools providing western education in retaliation for the alleged targeting of Korani schools by the military.
The spokes man of the sect, Abul Quqa, said the attacks were in response to what he called a targeting of the city’s (ie Maiduguri) abundant open – air Islamic schools by authorities. Since February when this call was made, many schools including private schools have been destroyed. However officials of the state have denied any of such attacks or campaign as young boys can be seen receiving lesson untroubled allover Maiduguri (the New York Times, 2012).
This new dimensional shift of the sects attack has numerous adverse effects on educational development of the region and the country at large. According to Nigeria Education Data Survey 2010, school enrolment in Borno state is already low by 28 per cent than any other state in Nigeria. No doubt, the recent attack have made parents and guardians’ to withdraw their children from schools and has made it difficult for teachers and aid groups to persuade parents to let their children stay on at schools.
Eric Gultscluss (a researcher in Nigeria for the Watching Human Right Organization) noted that it is not just the students at the targeted schools that end up being affected as targeting of schools can make children in neighboring schools to stay home or drop out completely for fear of further attacks. The targeting of children indirectly and destruction of schools in Maiduguri has bewildered and demoralized students, parents and teachers in a way that the daily attacks have not.
Furthermore, the attacks have led to death of academic experts teaching in all levels of Nigeria’s educational system ranging from primary to secondary and beyond. On sun,29 April, 2012, members of the sect attacked Christian workshops in Bayero University Campus, Kano resulting to death of 20 students and 2 professor of the university. According to an eye witness, the attackers arrived in a car and two motorcycles and throw small homemade bombs to draw out worshippers before shooting at them as they attempt to flee.
The attack led to the death of Professor Jerome Ayodele, a professor of chemistry and Professor Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi, a professor of library science with about 20 others dead and scores of others injured. (Ikhilae, 2012). Undoubtedly, this is a setback for educational development in the country. Also the persistence of insecurity in the north which has led to lose of about 700 lives so far this year (2012), has led to exodus of academic experts and shortage of qualified teaching man power in the region.
It has also led to refusal of NYSC members who constitute about 50 per cent of teaching man power in the region to serve in the region. Maijawa Dawayo, Chairman, Yobe State Teaching Service Board, in an interview with Nations News Paper on 9 Feb. , 2012 has this to say, “the recent circular by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) that corps members who constitute 50 per cent of the board’s man power should no longer be posted to senior secondary schools in the state would have an adverse effect on the educational sector of the State.
Most of the corps members are not interested in coming here again because of insecurity in the north. We are in a difficult situation and something needs to be done urgently to solve the problem. The corps members constitute 50 per cent of the manpower in our schools and the head of the scheme had issued a circular that corps members would no longer be posted to senior secondary schools (The Nation, 9 Feb, 2012).
Dawoye’s fear and lamentation was later made public and a reality in July 2012 when NYSC members posted to Borno, Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger, Plateau and Bauchi state refused to serve in the states and protested against their deployment to the violent prone states. Corps members and their parents took to the street to protest their deployment to the Northern States when the 2012 NYSC Bach B list came out arguing that it is senseless to post young graduate to these states.
Most of the parents vowed not to allow their children to go and be killed by Boko Haram (National Mirror, 2 July, 2012). Awosuru Lola, a graduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso in Oyo state, who was posted to plateau state said his father hard ordered him not to report at the camp “for whatever reason. ” Also Badiru Tajiudeen, a graduate of quantity surveying of Obafemi Awolowo University (O. A. U), Ile – Ife, posted to Zamfara state vowed that nothing could keep him beyond the mandatory three weeks of orientation programme in the camp.
He also said that his parents are even reluctant in releasing him to participate in the three weeks orientation and warned him to abort the programme if he is not transferred back to the west (National Mirror, 2 July, 2012). This development will make a devastating mark on the educational sector of the affected northern states. It will be recalled that ten young corps members lost their lives during the post – presidential election protest/violence in some northern states in April 2011, while others lost their lives in other violent clashes in the region.
The case of other Southerners who are teachers in the region is not different from that of NYSC members as most of them have found the exit door from the region. Dawayo confirmed this when he said that 80 per cent of Yobe State contract teachers who are from other states have left Yobe because of the same problem of insecurity (The Nation Feb 9, 2012) In addition, insecurity in the region caused by Boko Haram has also led to complete disruption of academic calendar in the region.
Most of the attacks never go without imposition of curfew by the government. The attacks have in some cases led to imposition of 24 hours curfew and when such curfew is imposed, both students and teachers are affected and this on the long run adversely affects the academic calendar which stipulates when school starts and when it ends as well as what should be done in the school and when thus drawing students in the region behind their counterparts in other peaceful states.
It is important that I state it clearly at this juncture that the North is a region where education enrolment and development is the least in the country and the current security situation is bound to compound the educational woes of the North and further widen the gap between it and the South. While private higher institution are rapidly springing up in the South to complement the over – stretched public institutions, only a handful has been established in the North and the few ones have come under Boko Haram attacks.
According to National University commission (NUC), 50 private universities have been licensed to operate in the country. Out of this 50, fewer than 15 are established in the north. What this implies is a bleak future for educational development of the region and a bleak future for young children in the region and this by implication is dangerous to Nigeria’s peace, unity and development. No matter how one looks at it, the attacks by the sect on schools have left many destructive marks on the future of affected children in the region and the country at large.
The affected children are at home which means a bleak future for them and the country at large because the future of a country depends on the kind and quality of education it offers its children. Finally, the insurrection of Boko Haram has led to distraction and diversion of both Federal and affected State government’s attention from the educational sector. This is evident in the 2012 annual budgetary allocation of the Federal Government in which the mind – bugling chunk of 921. 91 billion was allocated to security alone, while education on which the future of the country depends got the little chunk of 400. 48 billion naira which is not up to half of what is given to security.
There is no argument on the fact that both security and education are critical for the survival of a nation, but had it been there is peace in the country, the chunk given to security would have been considerately lower than what it has now. What the lean resources allocated to the educational sector means is a gloomy and difficult future for the sector. This is because there will be no resources to introduce new educational developmental program and the ones already introduced will certainly suffer of poor funding.
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