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Nearly 18.5 M children in Nigeria are forced to leave school – UNICEF

Nigeria: Globally, Nigeria has the highest rate of out-of-school children, and till now, there are 18.5 million children who left their school, a figure that has risen since 2001, as per the United Nations children fund (UNICEF).

In 2021, UNICEF estimated that 10.5 million children were out of school in Africa’s most populous country.

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As per the current data of Nigeria, there are a total of 18.5 million children who left their school, 60 % of whom are girls, said Rahama Farah, head of the UNICEF office in Kano.

Farah said that the multiple attacks on schools by jihadists and criminal gangs in the north had harmed children’s education.

Due to these attacks, the school’s environment has become dangerous, discouraging parents and guardians from sending their children to school, Farah insisted.

Since Boko Haram seized 200 schoolgirls in the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014, dozens of schools have been targeted for similar mass kidnappings.

According to UNICEF, in 2021, about 1,500 students were kidnapped by shooters. While most young prisoners have since been released for ransom, some remain in captivity in forests, havens of armed groups.

Mr Farah said only one in four girls from “poor, rural families” finish secondary school in the predominantly Muslim north.

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Insecurity, he said, “accentuates gender inequalities”.

According to UNICEF, violence and mass kidnappings have forced the authorities to close more than 11,000 schools in the country since December 2020.

According to the UN agency, the situation has resulted in increasing cases of child marriage and early pregnancy.

Mary Rago, a 15-year-old girl, was the oldest among them.

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