The long holidays are over and parents are anxious once again.
Their anxieties are two-pronged. First is the spate of insecurity in the country with school children being soft targets for kidnappers and even cultists and; of course, increase in school fees, no thanks to the crippling economy.
I remember when my kids were still in boarding school. My only anxiety was the huge fees I had to pay. I never worried about security; never gave a thought to bandits attacking their schools and demanding ransoms so huge that even the school fees pale in comparison. Today, parents are groaning and nothing is being done to assuage their worries…Even after managing to pay school fees, how safe is my child/ward?
Parents up North, especially, are asking themselves questions and borrowing themselves brain:
“Should I let this child resume with the spate of insecurity besieging the country?”
“Who’s to say their school will not be targeted by kidnappers?”
“Am I sure the school’s security systems can hold against kidnappers?”
“If kidnappers can easily abduct university students as in the case of the Greenfield university students; who are old enough to know when danger strikes, and polytechnic students like the College of Forestry…Come, they even made a successful raid on the Nigerian Defence Academy, in Zaria, Kaduna state. How safe is my child in this school?”
“Maybe I should change schools. But who’s to say that the new school won’t be on the kidnapper’s list?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t let my child go back to school just yet. Let see how things turn out…”
And thus over one million children are already out of school as children resume for the 2021-2022 academic session in schools pan Nigeria.
I hear someone say, “School abduction is a Northern problem.”
Well, no one thought there would be any form of kidnapping down south until “Fulani herders” began to snatch travelers off the roads; until farmlands and farmers and communities began to get ravaged and innocent people died; while those who didn’t die were kidnapped and huge ransom demanded; until monarchs and their subjects were taken from their palaces and homes in Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Kogi, Nasarawa; as well as in Katsina, even Lagos and huge sums of money demanded for their return…
Yes! We all thought it was a Northern problem, then it became a Nigerian problem.
Parents and Nigerians in general have lost faith in the government’s ability to protect its citizens; especially their children from bandit attacks and school abductions. They have seen the fate of other parents whose children are victims of these dare-devil attacks; with a government that appears impotent.
For instance, according to a recent report in The Punch; parents of students of Federal Government Girls College in Birnin Yauri have lost hope in the ability of the Kebbi state government to secure the release of their children that have now spent 96 days in their abductors’ den.” Same for parents of some 12 students of Greenfield University; same for parents of some Chibok girls and yes, Leah Sharibu…should I go on?
According to a UN report, 20 attacks occurred this past school year; with 1,436 students abducted and 16 killed.
So as children resume schools, parents should be asking the school authorities;
“What structures are you putting in place…just in case?”
“Do you have a perimeter fence around the school?”
“Is the school well-lit at night…”(damn NEPA)
“Do you have guards, (police hasn’t been effective so far); or even hunters and vigilante groups paid to help guard our children in schools?”
“Do you have, as part of your curriculum, lessons for children on how to run from abductors/should they suddenly storm the school?”
Parents and guardians should be demanding this and more of their children’s schools; just as the schools feel they have a right to increase fees.