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After escaping Boko Haram terrorist group, Cameroon Students not accepted in schools in their Homeland

Since 2014, some government-funded teachers have refused transfers to schools in areas vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks, further straining those schools' resources

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Cameroon Students. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Lara Salamatou wants to resume her education, but as Cameroon schools reopened Monday, the 16-year-old could only get lessons in frustration.

She’d tried to enroll in the government high school in Maroua, the Far North provincial capital, after fleeing three months ago from extremist violence near her home in Kerawa on the border with Nigeria. She was turned away because of overcrowded classes and few teachers, she said.

Now, Salamatou is among at least 100,000 displaced youths whose education has been jeopardized this academic year, according to Cameroon’s government.

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Authorities recently shut her school in Kerawa, along with 160 others, because of cross-border raids by the Nigerian-based Boko Haram Islamic insurgents. Schools in host communities are overcrowded and insecurity has delayed construction of more classrooms.

Would-be students wait

At a French-speaking government elementary school here, roughly 500 prospective pupils still waited outside as classes began Monday.

Teacher Njah Clementine said the school wouldn’t admit youths whose parents had not paid the $10-per-student fee required by parent-teacher associations for expenses such as textbooks and exams. PTAs manage public schools in collaboration with the government,which provides otherwise free elementary education. It’s compulsory for youngsters ages 6 through 14.

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Though many of the deterred youngsters have been displaced from conflict zones, Clementine said, the government hasn’t provided instructions on whether to admit them.

“There are so many parents that rush at the last minute to come and pay. … Some are begging” that their children be allowed to come to class, Clementine said, insisting the school has “effective” teachers. “They prepared their lessons since last week.”

Since 2014, some government-funded teachers have refused transfers to schools in areas vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks, further straining those schools’ resources.

Battling Boko Haram

Across the border in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram attacks government schools and schoolchildren. The Islamist militants oppose education; the group’s name translates to “Western education is forbidden.”

Cameroon’s minister of basic education, Youssouf Hadidja Alim, said the government is striving to build more classrooms in safer locales. She said it has constructed more than 200 classrooms, noting that 87 buildings have toilets. The government also has installed 56 wells to serve the education sites. More facilities are planned, she said.

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The government also is providing special allowances for teachers to encourage them to teach in vulnerable areas and has implemented an emergency plan for border areas, Alim said.

But Boko Haram fighters target the companies building the schools, said the Far North region’s top-ranking basic education official, Aminou Sanda Zoua. He said that contractors have abandoned construction sites because of mounting insecurity. He added that all classrooms built by the military’s engineering corps are ready for use. (VOA)

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Is Your Child Not Getting Enough Sleep Due to Early School Hours? He is at risk of Developing Depression and Anxiety, Says New Study

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body, which can harm the child's physical and mental health

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Unhealthy sleeping patterns can lead to major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood, Wikimedia

New York, October 9, 2017 : Is your child not getting ample sleep due to early school hours? Beware, your kid is more likely to develop depression and anxiety, warns a new study. The study reveals that children, who start schooling before 8:30 a.m., get insufficient sleep or barely meet the minimum amount of sleep, that is 8-10 hours, needed for healthy functioning of the body.

“Even when a student is doing everything else right to get a good night’s sleep, early school start times put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teenager,” said Jack Peltz, Professor at the University of Rochester in the US.

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body. It aggravates major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, suggested that maintaining a consistent bedtime, getting between eight and 10 hours of sleep, limiting caffeine, turning off the television, cell phone and video games before bed may boost sleep quality as well as mental health.

ALSO READ Prolonged Depression Can Change Structure of Your Brain

The researchers used an online tool to collect data from 197 students across the country between the ages of 14 and 17. The results showed that good sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive or anxiety symptoms across all students.

The risk of depression was even lower in the students who started school after 8:30 a.m. in comparison to those who started early. “One possible explanation for the difference may be that earlier starting students have more pressure on them to get high quality sleep,” Peltz stressed. (IANS)

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Bullying and other forms of Victimization can Damage School Climate, says New Study

According to the study, bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity

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The new study suggests that female and transgender students are more vulnerable to multiple forms of victimization. Wikimedia

New York, October 8, 2017 :  Researchers have found that all forms of victimization – bullying, cyber bullying and harassment – can damage the entire school climate.

The study, published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, measured the impact of poly-victimization – exposure to multiple forms of victimization – on school climate at the middle- and high-school levels.

ALSO READ Childhood bullying may have lifelong Health effects related to chronic stress exposure

The results showed that bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity.

“For each form of victimization, school climate measures go down precipitously, so if we only center the conversation about kids who are being bullied that limits it to ‘that’s not my kid’,” said study author Bernice Garnett, Associate Professor at University of Vermont in the US.

“But if we change the conversation to bullying can actually damage the entire school climate, then that motivates and galvanises the overall will of the school community to do something about it,” Garnett added.

Based on data from the 2015 Vermont Middle and High School Pilot Climate Survey, the findings highlight the need for comprehensive policies that address all forms of victimization to offset further erosion to safe and equitable school environments, which is tied to educational outcomes.

Overall, 43.1 per cent of students experienced at least one form of victimization during the 2015-2016 school year.

Just over 32 per cent of students reported being bullied, 21 percent were victims of cyber bullying and 16.4 per cent experienced harassment – defined as “experiencing negative actions from one or more persons because of his or her skin, religion, where they are from (what country), sex, sexual identity or disability.”

Prior research had shown that students from vulnerable populations are most frequently victimized.

The new study found female and transgender students were more vulnerable to poly-victimization. (IANS)

 

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Over 100 ‘Chibok Girls’ Rescued From Boko Haram Militants Restart Education in Nigeria

The abductions had sparked worldwide outrage and a "Bring Back Our Girls" movement that gained supporters in the United States, including then-first lady Michelle Obama.

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Chibok girls entertain guests during their send-forth dinner at A Class garden in Abuja, Nigeria. The girls will commence a special foundation program at American University of Nigeria Yola .VOA

Nigeria, September 21, 2017 : More than 100 ”Chibok girls” released by Boko Haram militants, have begun a new phase of their lives. They have started taking classes at the American University of Nigeria after months of rest and recovery under the care of the Nigerian government.

The girls had been expected to start at the university in the city of Yola early next month, and the government threw them a send-off party last week at their rehabilitation center in the capital, Abuja; but, the chairman of the Chibok parents’ association, Yakubu Nkeki, said the start date was moved up because the school year had already begun.

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Some of the 106 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in the Nigerian town of Chibok, are seen dancing joyfully during the send-forth dinner in Abuja, Nigeria, Sept. 13, 2017. (VOA)

“I went with them to the school until they were handed over to the school authority,” Nkeki told VOA’s Hausa service on Tuesday. “Since the school has already started, it was decided that it is best for them to go straight to school so they don’t miss too many classes. They were already starting late.”

At the send-off party, the minister for women’s affairs and social development, Hajia Jummai Alhassan, said the girls will start remedial classes at AUN to prepare them for undergraduate studies in any field of their choice, to be paid for by the federal government.

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Some of the gifts packaged to be given to the 106 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in the Nigerian town of Chibok, are seen during the send-forth dinner in Abuja (VOA)

AUN was already educating 24 girls who escaped Boko Haram shortly after the Islamist radical group, notorious for killing thousands of Nigerians, kidnapped more than 250 students from a secondary school in the Borno state town of Chibok in April 2014.

The abductions sparked worldwide outrage and a “Bring Back Our Girls” movement that gained supporters in the United States, including then-first lady Michelle Obama.

The girls who entered the university this week spent 30 to 37 months in Boko Haram captivity before the militants released them in two groups, in October 2016 and May 2017, following negotiations with the Nigerian government.

U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), an early supporter of Bring Back Our Girls, met the girls in Abuja shortly before they left the city and told VOA the former captives generally seemed to be in good shape; but, she said that according to the girls’ caretakers, this followed a long period of medical treatment and psychological therapy.

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In this file photo taken from video released by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, May 12, 2014, shows missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. (VOA)

“Can you imagine being held captive with terrorists, men who frighten you every single day for three years? When you are released, you are not normal, your psyche is not too good. They had to debrief them and help them,” Wilson told VOA.

Wilson said she was told that some girls are also recovering from bullet wounds, machete wounds and snake bites.

ALSO READ Boko Haram Refugees Raped by Nigerian Troops and Police, says Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Wilson said that contrary to some reports, the girls have seen their families since being released; but, she endorsed the government’s decision to keep the girls together in rehab instead of returning them to their homes.

“Because these girls had been together so long, to separate them would have traumatized them in my estimation. I think the decision to keep them together was the best thing they could have done,” she said.

More than 100 girls from Chibok remain in Boko Haram captivity, three-and-a-half years after they were taken.

At the send-off party, Women’s Affairs Minister Alhassan expressed optimism the rest of the girls will be freed.

“I assure you that by the grace of God, we will have our remaining girls released,” she said. (VOA)