At least 200,000 students in post-primary institutions alongside 1,000 teachers are reported to have been displaced as a result of herdsmen attacks in Benue State.
The herdsmen also destroyed 20 out of 64 government-owned post-primary schools across the three senatorial districts of the state.
The Executive Secretary of the state Teaching Service Board (TSB), Dr. Wilfred Uji, who disclosed this to journalists in an interview in his office in Makurdi, said the state required about N1 billion from the Federal Government as intervention to fix facilities destroyed by the insurgents and rehabilitate affected teachers and to enable affected students to settle down for normal academic work.
Uji, who lamented the degree of devastation the invasion caused the state education sector, explained that areas worse hit are Agatu in Agatu Local Government Area, as well as Udei, Gbajimba, Torkula all in Guma Local Government Area and Gwer East, Logo, Ukum and Katsina-Ala local government areas respectively.
He said: “At one instance, the herdsmen wrote a letter to the principal of Community Secondary School, Tongov, in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area. The principal later died.”
According to Uji, the future of children displaced by the attacks is bleak.
He said: “It will take the state and other parts of Northern Nigeria more than 100 years to catch up with the rest of the country educationally. The North accounts for over 80 per cent illiteracy rate. There are over five million school dropouts in the region. There is no future for our children educationally. Urgent intervention is needed to restore confidence in the system. We should stop playing politics. In the next 100 years, we will still find ourselves quarrelling over the issue of education. The North is the one marginalising itself. The northerners, especially the President, should wake up and stabilise the educational system in that region.”
According to Uji, Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration has, in the interim, erected temporary classroom structures, provided other instructional facilities, while volunteer teachers have also been put in place to help teach the children. The feeding of the children has also been taken care of.
Uji disclosed that the wage bill of the board had dropped from over N600 million to N500 million, following the retirement of more than 500 teachers and death of over 100. He stressed that the state required 5,000 teachers to replace those ones.
He called on the Federal Government to establish Secondary Schools Commission like Nigeria University Commission (NUC), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) to regulate the activities of secondary school in the country.