States ravaged by banditry and terrorism in the North West, North East and North Central zones have ruled out the idea of scrapping boarding schools in areas where abduction of female and male students from their hostels by insurgents and bandits have become a pastime.
Although some of the state governors have closed most of the boarding schools in their domains, the governments told LEADERSHIP Friday that they decided on the issue after carrying out a risk assessment of the security situation in the schools.
Mass abduction of secondary school students assumed a worrisome dimension recently when bandits struck in schools and abducted students in hundreds in Katsina, Zamfara and Niger States.
One of such abductions was on February 17, 2021, when bandits raided Government Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State and abducted students, teachers and some parents.
Nine days later, the bandits struck again and kidnapped close to 300 schoolgirls in Government Girls Secondary School (GSS), Jangebe, in Zamfara State.
This was barely a week after another set of 27 schoolboys were kidnapped in Kagara, Niger State.
Last year, over 300 schoolboys were abducted in Kankara, Katsina State.
When LEADERSHIP Friday enquired at the Niger State Ministry of Education whether the state governor, Sani Bello, would abolish boarding school, the government said it had no plan to do so.
It said the governor shut down the schools to develop a security template for the safety and security of students.
The commissioner for education, Hajiya Hannatu Jibrin Salihu, had announced that boarding schools in bandits-prone local government areas of Rafi, Munya, Shiroro and Mariga as well as parts of Paiko and Gurara local government areas had been shut down for proper security plans after consultations.
Also, secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Niger State chapter, Comrade Labaran Garba said, "NUT is of the opinion that our boarding schools should be retained and more security measures be strengthened by the government to grant safety of lives of our Teachers and students".
In Plateau State, the commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Dan Manjang, said the state government is not contemplating closing boarding schools but has intensified security surveillance around the entire state.
According to him, the state government is presently conducting a risk assessment of the state stressing that after that, the government will be informed to take the right decision.
He pointed out that already the commissioner for higher Education is going round the state talking to stakeholders and traditional rulers to ensure adequate security in their locations or domains with the view to report any suspicious movement to the law enforcement agents.
"The state government is not sitting down and folding its arms. We are very proactive; the risk assessment will determine the state government's next line of actions."
On whether boarding schools should be closed or retained, comrade Eugene Manji, the Plateau State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said closing boarding schools will give the bandits an edge to take over completely and continue their nefarious activities.
According to him, boarding schools should be retained and sustained, urging government at all levels and proprietors of such schools to ensure that the boarding schools are fortified with security with all the state of the art communication gadgets to ensure safety of students.
"Boarding schools should not be closed. Security formations to fight the bandits should be intensified. We should look at better means of fighting to defeat the bandits instead of closing down boarding schools. If schools are closed, they will enter open markets to abduct people."
Also, the Katsina State government has directed that all the 38 boarding schools should remain closed, except the four command secondary schools that opened on March 2, 2021.
The state commissioner for education, Prof. Badamasi Lawal Charanchi, who disclosed this, said the government had taken a series of measures to avoid a repeat of the Kankara incident.
According to him, all male students are to attend schools close to their locations or residences while the female students are to hold on until security improves in the state.
"Four command secondary schools, including command secondary school Faskari; girls secondary school, Musawa; government girls secondary school, Barkiya and police command secondary school, Mani are to open on 2nd March, 2021", he added
The commissioner said the government was not thinking of scrapping boarding schools but would improve security in the schools before they are reopened.
LEADERSHIP Friday however gathered that most parents were no longer keen on letting their children return to the boarding schools, especially those within the eight front line local government areas.
Aminu Tsarki, one of the parents opposed to their children returning to the boarding schools, said the security risks are so glaring.
He vowed that his son would not return to GSS Kankara again because of the ordeal the child faced in the hands of kidnappers.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Husseni Hamisu, said the boarding schools should not be scrapped but be provided with adequate security gadgets and personnel.
Also, in sheer display of resilience, the Taraba State government said it has provided security around secondary schools that are undergoing exchange programmes, while boarding schools across the State have been closed down to check mass abduction of students.
The state commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Hon Johannes Jigem, disclosed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Jalingo.
Jigem said boarding schools in security-prone areas and those on exchange programmes have been provided with security to prevent mass abduction of students.
According to him, Governor Darius Ishaku has also directed that schools across the state with boarding systems be shut, while students of such schools stay with their parents and go to their various schools.
He stated: "Government has taken measures to protect the students from the current happenings of mass abduction of students in secondary schools. We have provided security to boarding schools on exchange programmes and schools in security prone areas.
"The truth of the matter is that we do not have enough security to go round the schools, so we have closed boarding facilities in the schools for now except for those on exchange programmes.
"Students now stay with their parents and come to school daily while we feed them once every day. This is the way to go for now and we want other states in the north to emulate our strategy to avoid cases of mass abduction of school children".
In Yobe, the state government said it has no plans to scrap boarding school following the spate of abduction in some parts of the country.
A sources from the office of the commissioner for Basic and secondary Education, confirmed that Yobe State government has no plan to scrap schools due to insecurity.
Source added that following the growing insecurity across the North, the Yobe State government announced the closure of all boarding schools across the 17 local governments of the state as part of proactive measures to safeguard the lives of the students.
According to the source, with the recent development in the state, day schools are to continue with their normal business as well as private schools, and the government would do everything possible to provide adequate security before reopen the schools.
When contacted for further information, the commissioner for Basic and Secondary education, Dr Mohammed Sani, did not pick calls put to him through his mobile phone as well as text messages sent to him.