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We won’t return to Dapchi school

Students swear after abduction incident

Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

Government Girls Science and Technical College, located at the outskirts of Dapchi, a serene town east of Yobe State was the hope of many children in the area.

 It is the only school situated about 100 kilometres from Damaturu on the edge of the lone road which leads to the northern part of the state.

The assault by Boko Haram on that school is the fourth incident in the state. With six others such attacks in Borno, the Dapchi onslaught is the 10 reported and known assault on schools by the terrorist group that brands western education evil.

The school is 39 years old and took off at inception in 1979 in Damaturu later to be moved to its permanent site in Dapchi the following year.

It used to be the pride of the people especially children until Monday, February 19 when Boko Haram struck.

The insurgents raided the school without setting fire on any structure but abducted 110 students in an environment still grappling with poor enrolment of school-aged children especially the girl-child. They left a huge hole and regret in the hearts of parents and guardians. The once alluring school environment with beehive of social and academic activities has suddenly lost its attraction and now a desertion. Classroom doors, hostels, students dining hall and that of the kitchen were flung open. Nobody was seen at any of the facilities or the premises when our reporter visited last Friday, four days after the abduction.

The ghost of abduction

Many of the parents have vowed not to allow their children return to the school or schools in the state again, fearing the insurgents could still carry out more abduction in other schools.

“No, I don’t think I will send my daughter back to the school or any school around,” 65 years old Wakil Zakariya whose daughter, Aisha, 13 is among the kidnapped girls said. “Why did I send my daughter to the school in the first place,” he asked rhetorically.

Zakariya said he cherishes western education but the spate of abduction of girl students and attacks on schools by Boko Haram are his concern. Like many parents at Dapchi, returning their children to any school in the state was like a death warrant.

Another resident, Alhaji Usman Maisamari, father of one of the survivors, Amina Usman, said she would leave her daughter to decide. But his daughter Amina, 15 years, who escaped from Boko Haram vehicle right at the school premises maintained she would never return to the school again. “I won’t return to that school again,” she declared. Asked if she may change her mind should government provide more security; her response was shocking: “I am done with the school. I don’t want to go there again,” she insisted.

Amina and her five other sisters that survived the Monday abduction said they will only go back to school outside the state.

Many of the teachers have also fled the town in fear after the abduction. Residents said some of the teachers have vowed not to return to the area or would even resign “instead of being subjected to incessant threats of Boko Haram attack.”

Attack on education in northeast

A 2016 report by Human Right Watch (HRW) said Boko Haram attack on schools were direct attack on the education sector in the Northeast said to be educationally disadvantaged.

There are about 44 government secondary schools and 1,160 primary schools in Yobe, according to the statistics by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), with similar figure in other northeast states of Adamawa, Borno and Gombe. The enrolment figures in the area have also dropped following displacement of about three million people including school-aged children many of whom have been out of school for about two years.

A 2016 report by the HRW said generation of school children have been robbed of their rights to education by the Boko Haram conflict, citing various attacks on educational institutions and schools in the zone. “Primary schools virtually disappeared in two local governments since 2013. Public secondary schools were relocated from Gujba and Gulani in Yobe State to Damaturu, the state capital,” the report said.

Boko Haram which seeks to create an Islamic caliphate in northeast states is interpreted to mean western education is sin or forbidden. It is therefore not surprising that the insurgents have continually targeted education institutions; destroying schools, killing teachers and students and, abducting female students.

In July 2013, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in a Youtube video threatened to burn down schools where western education is taught. “We are going to burn down the schools, if they are not Islamic religious schools for Allah,” Shekau said. The insurgents attacked and killed 59 students at Federal Government College Buni Yadi, Yobe State on February 25, 2014. It also killed students and teachers at Mamudo, Potiskum schools in Yobe, Damasak, Maiduguri, Gwoza and Gamboru/Ngala in Borno. Boko Haram also kidnapped school girls at Konduga and Damasak in Borno State but the abduction of 276 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok sparked off national and international condemnation.

The education of the northeast states will continue to suffers as long as the flame of Boko Haram on school grow higher, many said.

LIST OF ATTACKED SCHOOLS

YOBE

Federal Government

College, Buni Yadi, Yobe

School in Mamudo

Schools in Potiskum

Government Science and Technical College, Dapchi

BORNO

Chibok

Damasak

Maiduguri

Gwoza

Gamboru Ngala

Konduga

UNIMAID.

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