In a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it was revealed that 723 schools in nine Nigerian states have been closed due to various challenges affecting the education sector. These challenges include insecurity, floods, and the presence of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in some school premises.
The report, titled Safe School Data, was released in September 2023 and covered the states of Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Imo, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. According to the report, Zamfara had the highest number of closed schools with 276, followed by Sokoto with 115, and Borno with 72.
The report also showed that state and non-state actors occupied some of the schools, preventing them from functioning normally. State actors occupied 85 schools across seven states, while non-state actors occupied 181 schools across three states. The report did not specify the identity or motive of these actors.
Furthermore, the report indicated that floods caused by heavy rains also contributed to the closure of some schools. A total of 303 schools were affected by floods in eight states, with Katsina having the highest number of 54, followed by Sokoto with 109, and Zamfara with 58.
Additionally, the report stated that 154 schools in six states were occupied by IDPs who fled from their homes due to violence or natural disasters. Zamfara had the highest number of IDPs occupied schools with 62, followed by Kebbi with 44, and Benue with 17.
The report highlighted the negative impact of these challenges on the right to education of Nigerian children. Dr. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, the Communication Officer of UNICEF Enugu Field Office, said that “education is a right of every child, it should not just happen to a child in Nigeria as a chance but a right.” She urged the relevant authorities to take urgent steps to address the situation and ensure the safety and continuity of learning for all children.