Conflict taking a devastating toll on education in West & Central Africa – UNICEF

Nearly two million children are being robbed of an education in West and Central Africa due to violence and insecurity in and around their schools, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

In a report the organisation published early August called Education under threat in West and Central Africa, it highlights that 1.9 million children from West and Central Africa have been deprived of education.

“As of June 2019, 1.91 million children were being robbed of an education due to violence and insecurity in and around their schools in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria,” the report says.

The United Nations Children’s Fund and partners has called“on governments, armed forces and groups, and other parties to conflict – and the international community – to take concerted action to stop attacks and threats against schools, and to support quality learning for every child in the region.”

What is the situation?

‪Abandoned classrooms serve as warehouses in Kumba, South West Region of Cameroon. ‬

Many areas in West and Central Africa are witnessing increased hostility towards education by warring factions. More than one quarter of the 742 verified attacks on schools globally in 2018 took place in five countries across West and Central Africa.

According to UNICEF, the number of schools forced to close due to rising insecurity in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa tripled between the end of 2017 and June 2019. As of June 2019, 9,272 schools closed across eight countries in the region, affecting more than 1.91 million children and nearly 44,000 teachers.


Violence and ‘lockdowns’ in Cameroon’s Anglophone Cameroon

Government Bilingual High School in Fontem, South West Cameroon. ( Photo: M. Kindzeka / VOA)

Fresh unrest and violence have rocked the Anglophone restive regions of Cameroon following a military court’s decision to sentence Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the leader of the “Ambazonia Governing Council,” and nine of his followers to life imprisonment on charges of terrorism and secession.

Since 20 August armed separatists have responded by attacking villages and towns especially in the North West Region. According to the government, fighting over the weekend resulted in at least 40 people being killed in the towns of Ndop, Bafut, Kumbo, Bamenda, Mamfe and Kumba. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

Various factions of the separatist movement also announced “lockdowns” for 26 August, 2 September and 11 September. Aimed at disrupting normal life, the lockdowns have also resulted in the forced closure of educational facilities.

According to UNICEF, between the end of 2017 and June 2019, 4,437 schools closed in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon resulting in more than 609,000 children being denied an education.

There has been a mass exodus from the North West and South West regions of Cameroon following an announced “lockdown” operation by separatist fighters in that part of the country.


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