The newly established authorities in Niger have embarked on the phased reopening of schools in the Tillabéri region, situated in the southwest and plagued by recurrent violence from armed groups. More than 800 educational institutions remain closed due to insecurity, presenting a dual challenge on both security and logistical fronts. The Nigerian government underscores the significance of ensuring children’s right to education, acknowledging the complexities involved.
By early January, 122 schools are slated to reopen, as reported by the Tillabéri Regional Education Directorate, supplementing the 37 that have already resumed operations. In this southwest region, over 800 schools have been shuttered, with some remaining closed for 3 to 4 years due to the persistent threat of armed group violence.
The decision to reopen schools, according to Niger’s new authorities, was made with careful consideration, emphasizing the fundamental right to education for children. This sentiment is shared by grassroots organizations, unions, and NGOs, all of whom express concern for the well-being and educational prospects of the country’s youth.
However, some stakeholders highlight the formidable challenges associated with this endeavor, including the rehabilitation of schools that may have deteriorated over time and the safe return of teachers and students in an area frequently targeted by attacks. The Synaceb, for instance, underscores the unresolved disappearance of two teachers abducted in Makalondi approximately a month ago, advocating for reassurance through increased military presence and patrols near educational institutions. This is particularly crucial given that schools can become targets for terrorist activities.
As Niger strives to balance the imperative of providing education with the pressing need for security, the reopening of schools in Tillabéri stands as a testament to the resilience and commitment of the nation to safeguarding the educational rights of its youth in the face of adversity.