Boko Haram is smiling big. If the Islamic extremist group could translate its successes into hard currency, the smile on its face could even be bigger as it sings its way merrily to the bank. Lest you think the group has pulled off yet another kill by the hundreds again, I’m talking about the fact that it is realizing bigtime its major object for existence — prevent Northern children from acquiring western education. The group’s name has been widely interpreted to mean “Western education is a sin.”
According to a new finding by the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, about 1 million children have been forced from school in northeastern Nigeria and the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. As the Associated Press reports, the group’s incessant and heightened attacks on its targets have forced the closure and, in most cases the destruction, of well over 2,000 schools in these countries.
Even when many of the schools have reopened, the fear of resumed attacks by the group is preventing teachers from heading back to the classroom. The agency, the AP further reports, also finds that about 600 teachers have been killed in the last six years since the Boko Haram insurgency began. Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Director, is seriously troubled by the development. “The conflict has been a huge blow for education in the region, and violence has kept many children out of the classroom for more than a year, putting them at risk of dropping out of school altogether,” Fontaine said.
The inability of children and teachers to go back to school with guaranteed security, could only worsen the yawning disparity in the literacy rate between the north and south of Nigeria. As a candidate in the last
presidential election, Muhammadu Buhari talked a good game about how he planned to roll back or defeat Boko Haram. As president in the last six months, however, Buhari has fallen short of his promise by more than a country mile, it’s fair to say.
Recently, the Christian Association of Nigeria kicked furiously against an alleged move by the Buhari administration to stealthily enlist Nigeria among Arab nations that have decided to take the battle to ISIS. Although Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to ISIS, it remains baffling why, assuming the allegation is true, the Buhari government would ignore its own battle back home and drag a secular Nigeria into a union of Islamic Arab nations in an outside war against Islamic terrorism.