School in Dapchi: Surviving the Boko Haram yhreats - SyCtRenDs

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

School in Dapchi: Surviving the Boko Haram yhreats



Students at the dinning area after classes

At 1:20pm, both students and teachers were busy in their classrooms. Only a discerning visitor could observe some students peeping through the windows to look at happenings outside.

At the school gate, well armed soldiers and mobile policemen subject visitors to barrage of questions.

This is Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi. The school came into international limelight when on February 19, 2018 elements of Boko Haram insurgents went and abducted 110 students.

Aftermuch negotiations the insurgents drove a month later into the town dropped them but still hold on to one — Leah Sharibu.

Before departing they warned the parents to marry off their girls otherwise when they come back the story would be different.

The freed students.

Thus since that incident some of the parents took the warning seriously and withdrew their children while others, encouraged by the children themselves, chose to defy the insurgents and returned them to continue with their education.

The school principal, Hajia Adama Abdulkareem, said that at the moment, the school could boast of a population of 450 students and 35 teachers.

“Before the schoolgirls’ abduction, we have a total of 900 students out of which 303 SS III students graduated, leaving us with about 600 students. Currently, the school has 450 students which represents that 80 percent of the total students’ population” she said.

Among the current students of the school are 12 of the abducted girls who defied the warning and returned to the school to continue with their quest for knowledge.

Fifteen-year-old Maimuna Musa, one of the 12 girls freed by the insurgents, said her passion for western education drove her back to the school.

“After months of idleness at home, I started missing my friends and the happy school days. I pleaded with my dad to allow me continue in this school. He agreed without any resistance and prayed that God should protect us.

“Today is exactly my second week in the school. Now the school is livelier than ever because we are being well taken care of.  Also, our teachers are doing their best in teaching”, she told Daily Trust.

When asked on how she was coping with trauma, having returned to the environment where the insurgents abducted her, she said, “We read, chat and share hilarious stories in the hostels. All these are making me to forget everything about that incident. In fact, I don’t even want to remember it”.

Another freed girl, Hajara Audu, who is in SSII, said the incident nearly dashed her hope of becoming a medical doctor. She said many of them thought they would never return and continue with their studies in the school.

“I had to convince my parents that most of the students have resumed. After much thought, my father brought me to the school and left. Now, we all learnt how to be happy in the school again,” she said.

She advised those who didn’t return to do so without fear because, they are well being taken care of and adequate security measures have been put in place.

The school principal, Hajia Adama Abdulkareem said enrollment in the school was impressive as parents continue to have confidence in the security arrangement being provided in the school.

“Many of them confessed that they were motivated by the security arrangement, that’s why they sent back their children to the school” she said.

She said the students, especially those abducted by the insurgents, went through a lot of trauma that had prompted the school authority to adopt some measures to help them recover.

“With the help of the local government chairman, we engaged the services of six elderly women who permanently stay with the girls in the hostels and the teachers are always around to support and comfort them. The old women chat with the students and move around in the hostel, day and night to encourage them”, she said.

The principal said she was not deterred by the insurgents’ attack, and she would continue until she retired.

“After all, I will still work for Yobe state government wherever I will be transferred to. I spent 15 years here and prefer to retire here.”

One of the school teachers, who pleaded anonymity, said despite efforts by the state governor to make the studentsl comfortable there are still a number of challenges.

He lamented that since it re-opened only the state and local governments have been taking care of the school.

“It’s very sad that we were given sleepless night when these girls were abducted. But, now that they have peacefully resumed to school, all the wailers are quite. None of them cares to check how these children are doing, let alone supporting the state government to improve the school.”

He said many of the school buildings needed  renovation while the school’s staff quarters could only accommodate very few of the staff, forcing majority of them to live outside the school.

“How do you expect a duty master to be leaving the school for his house in the town after ensuring that  the students have gone to bed at 10:00pm?

“We want the federal government, NGOs, and international organisations to intervene and improve the school by upgrading the buildings, supply laboratory equipment and other instructional materials.’’

The chairman of Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area, Alhaji Zannah Abatcha Dapchi said that adequate security had been provided by the state and local governments to forestall future occurrence.

He said apart from prayer session being held weekly for peace and protection, the state government, police and army have dispatched ample security personnel to guard the students.

“Yobe state government has sent 25 hunters, while the police command in the state has deployed two units of mobile policemen.

“The military has also deployed more 105 soldiers to Dapchi town while Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has 12  personnel,” he said.

He called on parents and students to have confidence in all the measures taken by government and send their children back to school.

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