Hundreds of Nigerian students displaced by Boko Haram have been rejected by government schools in the capital city Abuja, local media reported. The schools have denied the children education because they lack necessary documents to be granted admission – papers they left behind along with their homes and belongings when they escaped the murderous terrorists in northern Nigeria.
The Federal Capital Territory's secondary schools are demanding original documents including birth certificate, age declaration and certificates from previous schooling before the displaced children can be admitted. The Education Resource Center in Abuja, which is in charge of all government secondary schools in the city, said the strict rules cannot be waived because many people have sought admission by faking their displacement status, the Premium Times reported.
“I can’t go back to Gwoza to get those credentials,” said Jeremiah Andrew, 17, who fled his village in Borno last year, when the northeastern state was a Boko Haram stronghold. Unable to continue his education, Andrew has taken up carpentry in Abuja to keep occupied. Many others who were rejected by a government school have no jobs and loiter around the displacement camps, the Premium Times reported.
“Not giving them an opportunity to go to school simply means they may end up as miscreants, they may end up discouraged. This is like creating more thieves,” said Shola Okpodu, group managing director of School Hunters, a marketing communications education agency in Abuja. “I see no reason why those kids should be stopped from attending schools. Some of them, from my experience, are going through depression. They are traumatized. So how do you expect them to go back to that same place they ran away from?" (to pick up documents).
More than 15,000 people have died in Nigeria since Boko Haram’s insurgency began in 2009. The Nigerian army has recaptured land from the Islamist extremists in recent months, but more than 1.5 million people forced to flee their homes were still living in internal displacement centers as of April.
Most displaced persons do not get government assistance and will remain internally displaced for 10 years or more, experts said. Displacement camps are temporary and Nigeria's federal government can only fund them for so long, while state governments are incapable of responding to the needs of thousands of internally displaced persons.