North Nigeria state reopened schools shut after abductions, on Monday. A total of 115 schools were ordered to resume classes.
Pupils are back to school in Zamfara state, Nigeria. On Monday, teachers happily welcomed their students after a four-month shutdown. The state's education ministry ordered 115 schools to resume classes while 85 others designated as "red" were to remain closed "until when the security situation improves," an official statement read.
The abduction of 80 students from a secondary school in Kaya village last September motivated the closure. Now teachers try their best to mitigate the shutdown impact. "It has really affected our academic caledender because we are trying to catch up with those that we have left aside", Mohammed Musa, a teacher, explains.
The abductions frightened communities in the north, which was already grappling with low school enrolment, stopping at least one million children from returning to school, according to UNICEF. Heavily armed criminal gangs, called bandits locally carry out deadly raids on villages, kidnapping residents to obtain ransom from parents and communities.
Around 1,500 schoolchildren were seized last year in 20 mass kidnappings in schools across the region, with 16 students losing their lives, according to the UN children welfare agency. If most of the hostages were released after negotiations, some are still in captivity in bandit forest hideouts.
The mass kidnappings prompted the closure of hundreds of schools in six states -- Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto and Jigawa -- in a bid to save children.
Several measures including amnesty and military operations have failed to end the violence by bandits whose activities the Nigerian government recently said constitute "acts of terrorism".