On December 13, at least 600 young people were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina state in northwestern Nigeria. Education International, the global trade union federation representing educators, has joined the international community in demanding the safe release of the 300 teenagers who are still in custody.
Education International, along with the United Nations, strongly condemns the kidnappings of these boys from their school and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. "The children must be immediately rescued and returned to their families unharmed," said David Edwards, general secretary of Education International.
NUT: The government has to keep teachers safe
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the national organization of Education International, informed the latter that 600 students had been kidnapped. About half of them were rescued by the armed forces and around 300 students were still missing.
The union also said that two teachers were kidnapped in a similar incident in the same region and have not yet been found.
In the face of these brutal incidents, the NUT has threatened a strike unless the government guarantees the safety of its members in northern Nigeria.
UNICEF: Attacks on schools violate children's rights
UNICEF "strongly condemns this brutal attack and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all children and their return to their families," said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
She added that UNICEF was deeply concerned about these acts of violence as attacks on schools were a violation of children's rights. However, she said UNICEF recognizes the efforts of the Nigerian government to make all possible efforts for the safe return of the missing children.
On December 15, Boko Haram (which means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language) took responsibility for the kidnapping from leader Abubakar Shekau. More than 100 armed men on motorcycles attacked this rural public school. While some students escaped, others were captured, split into groups and taken away by attackers, according to the international news agency Agence France Presse.
Buhari, who is from Katsina himself and was visiting his house at the time of the kidnapping, condemned the attack and ordered security in all schools to be increased. The schools were also closed. On December 14, the army announced that it had located the hijackers' hiding place and added that a military operation was ongoing.
In addition to this campaign to ensure the release of the kidnapped Katsina boys, Education International continues to call for the immediate release of the 123 missing Chibok school girls. A total of 276 school girls were kidnapped in the 2014 mass abduction in Chibok.