Target: Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan
Goal: Provide protection for Nigerian schools from militant violence.
An Islamic militant group known as Boko Haram, meaning Western education is sin, has been terrorizing educational establishments. The group is ideologically opposed to secular government, democracy, and western culture. They aspire to overthrow the Nigerian government and establish an Islamic state. Although their primary targets have, in the past, been state institutions like military facilities and police stations, the targeting of civilian populations has increased. Many of these victims are also Muslims that were judged to be “moderates.” Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the militant group, said in a public statement, “Teachers who teach Western education, we will kill them. We will kill them. We could burn down the schools, if they are not Islamic schools. We don’t touch small children. Our religion does not allow that, but we’ll burn down the schools.” Despite their pledge for sparing children, this has been violated on several occasions.
In their latest attack, the militant group stormed an agricultural college in Yobe, located in northeastern Nigeria. They massacred forty students in their sleep. These strings of recent attacks have forced many parents to withdraw their children from school due to safety concerns. Fifteen thousand students in the Nigerian state of Borno alone have stopped going to school. Amnesty International estimates that since 2012, over one hundred students and seventy teachers have been killed. Fifty schools have been damaged or burnt down and sixty were forced to close. However, Amnesty International admits that these figures may be understated due to the lack of media access to these locations affected.
This insurgency seems to be spreading albeit in a decentralized manner. Militant groups, separate from Abubakar Shekau’s command, have come into existence, but their message is the same. As a result, the Nigerian president has declared a state of emergency in three states in northeastern Nigeria. Sign this petition to demand protection from the Nigerian government for schools, students, and teachers.
Dear President Jonathan,
Students should not fear for their lives in institutions of learning. If security is not restored in these schools, students and teachers will be deterred from attending their classes. Parents will keep their children at home. This will stunt the intellectual growth of young students. It will have an adverse effect on Nigerian students’ prospects for employment in the future, and damage economic growth.
Whether it be a religious or secular school, students and parents should have the freedom to choose. Please mobilize adequate security forces to protect vulnerable schools.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: one laptop per child via Flickr