Education International
Education International

Nigeria: Commonwealth Teachers’ Group solidarity with abducted girls

published 3 June 2014 updated 4 June 2014

The Commonwealth Teachers’ Group (CTG) has joined in the global public outcry against the abduction of school girls in Nigeria.

“The CTG is gravely concerned for the safety of the 234 school girls abducted from the Government College in Chibok, on 14 April,” reads a statement from the CTG that was issued on 26 May in Montreal, Canada, at the EI Unite for Quality Education Conference. “The safety and security of pupils while at school is of paramount importance. The CTG strongly condemns the seizure of these female students while they were at school.”

Murder and kidnapping

Islamist militants from the Boko Haram group have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, and a leader warned that he would sell the girls into slavery. “This is a heartbreaking and uncertain time for the families of those kidnapped,” according to the CTG.

The group also condemns the murder of seven teachers in recent weeks and the abduction of 27 members of their families in the Borno State, Nigeria.

“This brings to 171 the numbers of teachers in Nigeria who have been assassinated since 2009,” highlights the CTG. “This level of violence makes it all the more important that the Safe Schools Initiative, which has been announced by a coalition of Nigerian business leaders working with the United Nations to increase the security of pupils and teachers in their school grounds, moves forward as quickly as possible. We are pleased that Education International has pledged its support of this campaign.”

Support from the world community

Global support and action is also underway in the search for the missing girls, the statement says.

CTG acknowledges that EI General Secretary Fred Van Leeuwen has played a crucial role in discussions with Gordon Brown, Global Education Envoy for the UN. Teacher organisations in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger are helping in efforts to locate the girls who may have been moved from Nigeria into these countries. Brown has expressed his appreciation for the involvement of these teacher organisations.

Forty per cent of Nigerian children aged six to 11 do not attend any primary school within the Northern region. This is the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls, CTG says. Despite a significant increase in net enrolment rates in recent years, UNICEF Nigeria estimates that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school. Abducting children who do attend school could put the entire school system under serious threat, says the CTG.

Echoing Malala Yousafzai’s words – ‘If we remain silent, then this will spread, this will happen more and more’ – CTG calls for these terrible atrocities to stop: “The threat of danger to those in education in Nigeria, and in other vulnerable countries, must cease. Schools must be safe against terrorism and the fear of violence from extremist militants. It is vital that the girls are brought back safe from the atrocious ordeal.”

EI: Schools must be safe sanctuaries

EI welcomes the CTG statement on Nigerian girls, which demonstrates strong solidarity among the global education community, van Leeuwen said. “We reiterate that schools must be safe sanctuaries and that quality education must be provided to all, boys AND girls. We will continue to monitor these girls’ situation closely and wish to see them released soon.”

EI calls on affiliates to take part in the global mobilisation on 16 June on the UN Day of the African Child for the girls' safe return, he added.

You can also express solidarity with the abducted Nigerian girls and Nigeria’s education personnel by posting messages via #BringBackOurGirls on Twitter, or Bring Back Our Girls on Facebook.