October 11, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

A group of unidentified gunmen attacked a secondary school in north Nigeria's Kaduna

Photo credit: UNICEF

Abductions from schools in Nigeria, good news for teachers and students in Jordan and the plight of Afghan children feature in our roundup.

Two Nigerian schools attacked and girls abducted for ransom

Gunmen attacked a secondary school in Nigeria and abducted the principal - a week after six female students and two staff were kidnapped from another school in the region.

Reports said the attackers stormed the Government Technical Secondary School in Kajuru, Kaduna, at about midnight yesterday. They fired shots before taking the school's head with them.

Last week gunmen entered Engravers College, a mixed boarding school in a remote area just south of Kaduna, and seized the schoolgirls. 

"They have made a demand for money and that is being negotiated," said state governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. Those talks were ongoing this week and several suspects were arrested.

“We are negotiating with the kidnappers to rescue these students and their teachers," said Ali Janga, police commissioner in the state. "We know the location of the kidnappers but we do not want to endanger their lives."

Abductions for ransom are common in Nigeria and the school is located in an area that has become notorious for attacks by armed bandits.

Jordan schools reopen after month-long teachers' strike

Children are back in class and learning after the one-month strike ended

Photo credit: UNRWA

More than 1.5 million students headed back to school in Jordan after the government reached a pay deal with the teachers' union to end a one-month strike.

Salaries for teachers - who earn an average of $630 per month - will rise by 35% to 60% from next year. The agreement comes after weeks of deadlock over an original 50% pay rise demanded by the unions.

"The teachers got their demands," said Nasser Al Nawasrah, deputy head of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate. He called on his organisation's 100,000 members to immediately resume teaching in around 4,000 state schools that had been affected by the strike.

The unions announced the strike after the authorities used tear gas to disperse thousands of teachers who had congregated to press for the wage demands near government headquarters. Many parents had kept their children at home out of solidarity with the striking teachers. 

Violence against Afghan children rises dramatically

Hundreds of schools have been attacked in Afghanistan

Photo credit: UNICEF

Violence against children in Afghanistan has risen sharply over the past four years, according to a United Nations report.

A team studying the plight of children in the war-torn country from 2015 to 2018 documented 14,202 grave violations, revealed the report published this week by the office of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"Of serious concern, the killing and maiming of 12,599 children was verified, representing almost a third of all civilian casualties and an increase of 82% in child casualties compared with the previous four years," it said.

The report documented 832 attacks on schools and 274 cases of children being recruited to fight.

"I am deeply disturbed by the scale, severity and recurrence of grave violations endured by the children in Afghanistan and by the fact that they continue to bear the brunt of the armed conflict," said Guterres.

Tanzania president supports caning of students

Tanzanian President John Magufuli endorsed caning in schools

Photo credit: Government ZA

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has backed a regional governor who caused outrage by caning 14 schoolchildren, saying he should have done more.

Footage of the punishment, which went viral on the internet, showed Mbeya governor Albert Chalamila giving three strokes of the cane to each student, all of them stretched out on the ground.

They had violated a ban on having mobile phones in their school and are accused of burning down their dormitory in retaliation. The punishment was administered in front of the students' schoolmates, police officers and teachers and unleashed wide criticism on social media. 

"I congratulate the regional commissioner for caning the students and that was actually not enough. He could do more," the president said. Human Rights Watch said in 2017 that corporal punishment in Tanzanian schools was widespread, frequently "brutal and humiliating" and called for it to be banned.

Pakistani schools not rebuilt 14 years after earthquake

Many schools have yet to be rebuilt after being destroyed by an earthquake

Photo credit: UN Photo

About 1,800 government schools in Pakistan have still not been rebuilt 14 years after being destroyed by an earthquake, according to a report.

Sources told Dawn newspaper that the schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had been functioning in rented places or in tents since the 7.6-magnitude earthquake in October 2005.

The report said a lack of funds and disinterest by federal and provincial authorities had delayed the reconstruction of schools. It said students from hilly areas were exposed to harsh weather in the winter season, especially due to heavy snowfall.

“Teachers and students can’t concentrate on work in a tent school,” a district education officer told Dawn.

The earthquake damaged 3,660 government schools in five districts - about half of which have been rebuilt.

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