Nigeria - report - 
Article published the Thursday 24 November 2011 - Latest update : Thursday 24 November 2011

Books versus bullets in north-east Nigeria

A boy takes notes during a sociology class at the Future Islamic Prowess Foundation.
Rosie Collyer

By Rosie Collyer

Continuing violence between the Joint Military Task Force and the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram, in the city of Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria has resulted in schools closing intermittently. But one school is battling to bring education to the city's children.

The threat of terror attacks has affected school enrolment according to Sani Ali Gar, project director of Nigeria Education Data Survey.

Radio reports will be broadcast on RFI from 28 November to 2 December and will appear on the website in the International report slot.

"Over the past two years school enrolment has dropped by 15 per cent in Borno State," he says. "This is directly linked to the unrest in Maiduguri. Parents want to keep their children close to them.”

Boko Haram translates from Hausa, a trading language spoken in the Sahel region, as books are forbidden. The group’s founder, the now deceased Yusuf Mohammed, told his followers that Western education has corrupted the minds of Nigeria’s ruling elites.

Yet in a suburb of the city a small revolution is taking place. The Future Prowess Islamic School was set up four years ago for orphans and vulnerable children.

The school offers Western and Islamic education to both boys and girls with free tuition. A daring feat in a city under siege by hard-line Islamists whose battle-cry is the end of Western education in the north of Nigeria.

The headmaster at the school, Suleiman Aliyu, insists he is not jeopardising the safety of the children.

“We have never received any threats from Boko Haram,” he declares. 

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Over half of the pupils are orphans. Several lost their parents during military crackdowns and violent attacks by Boko Haram.

Teachers have also been affected by the violence. One of them, Zainab Ehizojie, says her husband was killed by Boko Haram a year ago.

“I got a call saying my husband was seriously injured," she recalls. "He’d been hacked with a machete. By the time we got him to the hospital he was dead.”

Perhaps the bottom-up approach to education offered by the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation will enable it to evade the wrath of Boko Haram.

But, so long as Borno State features at the bottom of school enrolment figures in the country, low literacy rates and high unemployment will drive some into the ranks of Boko Haram.

Nigerian school defies Boko Haram
Girls play together during a break at the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation.
Click on the picture to see the slideshow

tags: Education - Islam - Islamist - Muslim - Nigeria - School - Terrorism
Related articles
React to the article
Commentez cette article en tapant votre message dans la zone de texte. Le nombre de caractères est limité à 1500 ou moins.
(0) Réactions
Close