As members of renowned Islamist group – Boko Haram desperately wanted their captured colleagues to be released first before they could let go of the young girls.
By Simon Mone
Last week, 82 more Chibok girls that were abducted in April 2014 were released. It took barter exchange arrangement to make this happen.
As members of renowned Islamist group - Boko Haram desperately wanted their captured colleagues to be released first before they could let go of the young girls. And authorities in Abuja in deed had to do the needful in order to get back their school girls.
The kid's release opens up the chance for them to resume schooling. But also opens up to questions about where the rest of the kids are. To be able to return the girls to school, they will require some amount of psychosocial effort.
This rehabilitates their trauma suffered in captivity. Counselling is needed so that the girls can heal themselves from radicalisation experiences that they underwent. After that, they will integrate into normal schooling lives.
While some parents rejoice the return home of their daughters, a perturbing thought still hangs over other parents' heads. That some of the kidnapped girls refused to return home.
It shows the type of things that radicals are capable of doing - indoctrinate young children. Non-the-less, it shouldn't pause the celebrations. Wondering parents should stay hopeful that other girls still held up will return home.
This brings us to the debate of the new complexity of insurgencies around our world today. We have rebels who recruit young kids to help them fight. And the radicals who indoctrinate kids, and let them terrorise innocent gatherings with bombs in; markets, in churches and at schools.
The insurgents of now-a-days have shifted their objectives and activities to a whole new level. So much that schools and universities are no longer safe places for students. Insurgents use kids in furthering their objectives. And students and educational personnel have become recipients of death threats, and recruits in wars. Armed groups have turned schools into battle grounds. So safety and security of students and teachers are no longer guaranteed.
According to a UN report of 2015, between 2009 and 2014, schools in 70 countries were attacked. It is highly likely that this statistic will only increase. With destruction of education infrastructure, death and injury to education professionals expected to become rampant. So how can we prevent schools and education professionals from being attacked?
As conflicts around the world seem to go without ending day by day, are there protection measures against radicalisation of school children? Perhaps we should start up some crazy ideas; like school administrators should be given skills to be able to evaluate security risks.
So that be evaluating these risks, they can apply appropriate measures in order to deal with different security vulnerabilities. For example, upon the evaluation, governments can be required to deploy the army around schools to provide protection.
Teachers, students and their caretakers need these skills so they can be able to guide the kids on what to do or which direction to take in case of potential attacks. The internationally accepted Safe Schools Declaration is being signed up at a fast rate.
Afghanistan, CAR, DRC, Somalis, South Sudan and Sudan have all added their signatures to the growing list of countries embracing the Declaration. While we have this legal framework, we also ought to reinforce it with physical protection of school installations.
For example, I may require schools to fit windows with strong reinforcements that are not easy to breach. And also fit doors with heavy bolts and shutters that make it hard to break into.
Install razor wires on perimeter wall fences to stop insurgents from climbing over. School kids need to be kept safe from abduction by insurgents.
The writer is a civil engineer