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With the most number of entries we’ve ever received, the competition was even harder with such exceptional submissions that demonstrated inspiring passion for Human Rights advocacy.
Mariam Ahmed, 13, won 3rd place in our HART Prize for Human Rights Junior Essay Category 2018 with her essay titled:
Nigeria’s Children Denied Education
Tension in Nigeria has been some of the worst yet, with thousands of people being killed and more than a million people displaced by vulnerability. Borneo state, a place corrupted by terrorist groups has its main captor as Boko Haram, an anti-education terrorist group.
The president of the UN security council reiterated on 28th July 2015: “Deny terrorist groups the ability to put down roots.”
In 1960 Nigeria seized independence from the British Empire and set on its path for development. Despite the auspicious opportunities for the country, corruption, disputes and military takeover diverted what could have been a fuelling future for the people. By 2009, a growing dominance from the Boko haram had broken into a violent, religious tensions. Boko Haram, has since expanded and now it resides in Borneo state in North West Nigeria. For many people, Boko Haram has ripped lives and human rights apart. Schools, homes and places of worship have all been relentlessly attacked by the group, with Christians particularly being victimised. Nigeria’s people have been in turmoil as Boko Haram spreads its ideals to neighbouring nations: Chad, Niger and Cameroon. A staggering 20,000 people have been killed, thousands of women and schoolgirls abducted and 110 children used as suicide bombers.
In addition to Boko Haram, the lesser known force, the Fulani, is one of the many sparks of conflict. The Fulani are quintessential nomadic herdsmen but they cause conflict with the Christian farmers. This perhaps has close propinquity to the religious turbulence in Nigeria due to 29% of Nigeria being Fulani Herdsmen.
“Unfortunately, the fight is far from over”, Stated Jeffrey Feltman, the UN Under-secretary-General for political affairs. Indeed, Nigeria and its Government have been fighting against the escalating attacks .As a result, Nigeria’s current president Muhammadu Buhari was elected on the basis that he could rid the adverse government and destroy Boko Haram with military force.
Terrorism is not the only battle Nigeria faces, 5.2 million people are in predominant poverty. Food is scarce; 3.4 million people are substantially malnourished. An unprecedented 2,152,000 people are in IDP (Internally displaced people) after proposedly inaccessible regions drove thousands away.
Boko haram, meaning “Western Education is forbidden” destroys schools and religious locations as they are sources of understanding. Education is fundamental foundation for the future. It allows younger generations to create a fairer future, which would most likely appose biased governments and unfair rule. Education is the only threat to terrorism groups like Boko Haram and Fulani: it raises awareness of injustice that people were previously subservient to. The UN has identified that schools are places of choice for Boko haram to target. This ameliorates the perspective of education being the main strength beside conflict.
70% of Nigeria’s people living below the poverty line only reconciles that terrorism will persuade them easily, and education is negligible for them. This makes it obligatory for more education to be present, diverting people from the force of extremism. Education gives people strength and independence, which equates to freedom.
The release of 21 abducted Chibok School girls on 13th October 2014 gave a succinct message that Nigeria needed help.
Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinjabo elucidated: “In the next few days or months we will be able to negotiate the release of more girls.”
However 195 children were still missing by the end of the year. The militant group had already kidnapped hundreds of people, it was only brought to global rapport years later.
“The human fallout of the crisis had been underreported, including the suffering of displaced people and the plight of women,” Explained senior Nigeria analyst for the international crisis group.
He went on to describe life in the North east of Nigeria as “Hellish”.
Providing education means investing into a countries future economy. Thus by terrorism destroying education as a retaliation means that they are making the whole country suffer. For many young people education means a chance to fulfil goals, particularly where poverty is rife. For the youth in Nigeria, it could mean progression and an opportunity to have a better future. The more discrepancy a country has, the greater the need of understanding.
According to a profound OECD report: “providing every child with an education or the skills needed to participate in society fully would boost GDP by an average 28% a year in lower income countries. Over the next 80 years.
Despite the controversy in Nigeria, turmoil has not touched everything .In Plateau State, The HART Christian institution teaches courses in Healthcare, theology, communications and computing. Here, the Muslims and Christian’s learn together in harmony. Life in Nigeria has endured instability; however, the future holds positive prospects for a country rich in education.
See the full list of HART Prize for Human Rights 2018 winners and shortlisted entries here