Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday condemned the attacks on schools in Nigeria's northern city of Maiduguri, which has left thousands of pupils without access to education.
In a statement issued by the New York-based rights group, and obtained by PANA here, it said more than a dozen schools had been set on fire in northern Nigeria.
“Boko Haram’s attacks on schools represent a new and reprehensible development since the group began its campaign of violence in 2009,” the statement quoted Zama Coursen-Neff, deputy children’s rights directorat HRW, as saying. “Children and educational institutions
should be left alone, full stop.”
Around 20 February, the first three schools – Kulagumma Primary School, Abbaganaram School, and Budum Primary School – were set on fire. from 26 to 29 Feb., at least four schools were burned, and on 1 March, five schools were set ablaze in what appeared to be a coordinated
attack, including Sunshine Stars Secondary Schooland Success Secondary School, which had an enrollment of 700.
As a result of the attacks, at least 10,000 students are staying home from school, according to the local media.
A purported spokesman for Boko Haram, Abul Qaqa, has claimed the group’s responsibility for the attacks on schools and threatened further violence, saying the attacks were in response to attacks against Quranic schools and the arrest of local clerics by members of the security forces.
HRW said attacks on schools by armed groups not only put children and teachers’ lives at risk, but they may also deprive children of an education, adding that schools may close and children drop out entirely.
Even when classes resume after an attack, the quality of education may suffer when students and teachers are afraid and learning materials are damaged, it said.
Nigeria is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which guarantee children the right to education.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria, seeks to impose a very strict form of Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria and to end corruption.
The campaign of terror by Boko Haram since 2009 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people.
-0- PANA SEG 7Mar2012