Fear of attacks threatens education in Burkina Faso

150,000 children have been kept away from school
In this photo taken on November 23, 2004 pupils of Nongana Fulfulde primary bilingual school read in peul next to their teacher in a village of Nongana of Ziniare in plateau central region, north of Ouagadougou, where lessons are held in French and peul. – In some parts of the North and East of Burkina Faso schools and school teachers are targets for Jihadists, AFP reports on November 16, 2018. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

More than 150,000 children are not going to school in Burkina Faso because of the threat of jihadist violence, the education minster has said, warning of a “deteriorating” situation in the West African nation.

More than 1,100 schools have been forced to close or temporarily shutdown due to assaults and threats by radical Islamists, Stanislas Ouaro said on Thursday.

“This year the situation is deteriorating,” he said.

“There are schools closed for a few weeks, a few months and others since the beginning of the (school) year.”

The school year began in October 2018 but some 5,000 teachers are unable to work, he said.

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More than 300 people have been killed in Burkina Faso — part of the vast Sahel region — in four years of jihadist attacks, according to an AFP count.

School closures have spread from the country’s north to the east, the minister said.

He said 1,135 schools were closed, with 154,233 students prevented from attending classes.

“Forty-six percent of them are girls,” Ouaro told state television.

Last week the United Nations and the government highlighted the number of school closures in Burkina Faso and said more than a million people were in “critical need” of humanitarian aid.

They launched a plan to raise $100 million to provide food, water, housing and healthcare.

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About 130,000 children are threatened by severe malnutrition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Some 83,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to the continuing violence, OCHA said. 

International efforts to create a transnational anti-jihadist military operation, named the G5 Sahel force, have so far failed to make much impact.

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