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Two years after the abduction of the 276 Chibok girls, Human Rights Watch looks at Boko Haram’s devastating impact on education in northeast Nigeria.
Boko Haram’s attacks on schools, students, and teachers in northeast Nigeria has left nearly 1-million children with little or no access to school. Nigeria’s security forces have contributed to the problem by using schools as military bases, putting children at further risk of attack from the Islamist armed group.
Human Rights Watch’s report titled They set classrooms on fire: Attacks on education in Northeast Nigeria, documents Boko Haram’s increasingly brutal assaults on schools, students, and teachers since 2009 in the Borno, Yobe, and Kano states. Between 2009 and 2015, Boko Haram’s attacks destroyed more than 910 schools and forced at least 1 500 more to close. At least 611 teachers have been deliberately killed and another 19 000 forced to flee. The group has abducted more than 2 000 civilians, many of them women and girls, including large groups of students.
Boko Haram’s attack on Chibok Government Secondary School has become emblematic of the group’s tactics against education. On the night of April 14 2014, it abducted 276 girls from their dormitories, with 219 remaining captives two years later. Many have been forced to convert and marry their captors, witnesses have said. In a video released in May 2014, the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, said women and girls would continue to be abducted to “turn them to the path of true Islam” and to ensure they did not attend school.
In his election campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and to develop Nigeria’s northeast, but at least 1 000 civilians have died in the conflict since Buhari took office in May 2015. Although the government said in December that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated,” attacks continue.