The Boko Haram conflict, which was formally unleashed in 2009, has caused thousands of deaths and has hit educational establishments, especially in North-Eastern Nigeria, some parts of Northern Cameroon, Chad, and Niger where the group is active.
The BBC revealed that, between 2009 and the present day, at least 70 lecturers of the University of Maiduguri have resigned from their positions. According to the report which was also informed by an interview granted to Dani Mamman, the Chair of the local chapter of the University’s academic staff union, the resignation has not been limited to lecturers alone, but the general enrollment of students has dropped drastically. Maiduguri used to be the seat of the armed group until it was forced to retreat into the Sambisa forest by the Nigerian Army. In neighbouring Cameroon, Boko Haram has been very active in the Northern town of Maroua, but none of its activities has touched the city’s lone university. However, the Cameroonian government estimates that by September 2015, about 120 schools were forced to close. Grosso modo, the UN estimates that more than 1200 schools have been destroyed by activities of the Islamist group in the four affected countries.
The name Boko Haram is a literal translation from the group’s actual name, Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad meaning, “Western education is sinful”. It is on the basis of this that the group tailored some of its audacious attacks on educational establishments, sometimes abducting students, as in the case of Chibok in 2014. However, Boko Haram’s rejection of Western Education goes beyond the formal schooling process itself. It embraces aspects of capitalism and corruption, which it believes are the brainchild of such an educational system. Moreover, in its hatred for Western education, Boko Haram abhors a society where secular principles triumph over strict religious norms. It believes secular values are born out of secular education which is fashioned and directed by the Western world. The group also fails to distinguish between an education based on reasoning and science and an education based on faith in a supreme deity. That explains why some of its foot soldiers are former Almajiri children.
These are children groomed by masters of Qur’anic schools from a very tender age. They grow up being very familiar with Islamic teachings and in most cases are being influenced by radical preachers who see violence as a just course of action for all Muslims. During the day, these children roam the streets of the towns and villages begging for food and offering their services to whosoever who can offer them a day’s meal. In the midst of this low self-esteem, they are exposed to hope sellers who promise them a better life and paradise if they carry out attacks against those they call infidels.
Even though Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared the technical defeat of Boko Haram in 2015, the group remains very active despite losing considerable territorial support. Boko Haram still carries out attacks especially in North-Eastern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon. The latest of such attacks in Cameroon killed about 8 persons on August 5th, 2017. July became one of the bloodiest months in recent times, as more than 50 persons of a team of oil exploration workers were killed in Northern Nigeria. Most of the members of the team were university lecturers and researchers.