Amid escalating security challenges across various sectors of Nigeria, recent reports from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicate the closure of approximately 723 schools in nine states across the country. The closure, attributed to various factors including security concerns and natural disasters, has significantly disrupted educational activities in affected regions.
According to the UNICEF Safe School Data report released in September 2023, the closure of schools is primarily linked to the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and incidents such as flooding, which have obstructed teaching and learning processes in the affected areas.
The states most affected by these closures include Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Imo, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Notably, Zamfara State leads with the closure of 276 schools, followed by Borno with 72 closures, and Kebbi with 68 closures.
Furthermore, the report highlights the occupation of certain schools by state and non-state actors, exacerbating the educational crisis. State actors were reported to have occupied schools primarily in Borno, Zamfara, and Adamawa, while non-state actors seized control of schools predominantly in Imo and Zamfara states.
Incidents of flooding also contributed to school closures, with several schools affected across states such as Adamawa, Borno, Imo, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Additionally, the displacement of IDPs has resulted in the occupation of numerous schools, particularly in Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara.
Dr. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, the Communication Officer at UNICEF’s Enugu Field Office, emphasized the fundamental right of every child to education, stressing that it should not be left to chance but guaranteed as a fundamental right in Nigeria. The closure of hundreds of schools underscores the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the underlying issues and ensure the resumption of education for affected children across the country.