September 14, 2021

SCI worries over impact of COVID-19 on children in poor settings

By Sola Ogundipe

WORRIED by persistent attack on schools, students and teachers in Nigeria, Save the Children International, SCI, has said that children in low income countries have lost 66 percent more of their lifetime schooldays during the pandemic compared with their peers in the rich countries.According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), between 2015  and 2019, there were 100 reported attacks on schools in Nigeria. These attacks have been on the increase between 2020 and 2021, which led to the close down of many schools by the government due to fear of being attacked. From January to August, 2021, over 1000 children were abducted in Nigeria, with so many of them still in the hands of their abductors.In a recent report released  by Save the Children, SCI,  tagged: “ Build Forward Better”,  the DRC, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Mali, and Libya have education systems that are at ‘extreme risk’ while Syria and Yemen follow closely behind.Reacting to the report, the Country Director, SCI, Nigeria, Mercy Gichuhi, said, 9th September, which is the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, remained an important moment to raise awareness on the situation of education in conflict.“When education is under attack, a generation is attacked. Children, girls and women are more vulnerable at times of attack – putting them at a higher risk of trauma, fear, gender based violence, physical and sexual abuse. Many children in such times will have no choice but to discontinue their education and some will never return back to school – with their childhood dream fading away.”In Nigeria, the number of out-of-school children, according to UNICEF, was at 10.5 million before the effects of the conflict; humanitarian crisis and COVID-19 pandemic were felt. With the total or partial closure of schools in Zamfara, Katsina, Adamawa, Kaduna, Niger and other States due to kidnapping and abduction of school children, the number of children that would be prevented from accessing education in Nigeria could be on the increase.