In Burkina Faso it’s too dangerous to go to school

Image: BBC

Image: BBC

In the three areas affected by an upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso, 1,111 out of 2,869 schools have closed in recent months. These regions - the North, the Sahel and the East - are in the north of the country that borders Mali and Niger where jihadist militants have operated for several years. In the province of Soum, in Sahel Region, 352 schools are now closed.

More than 150,000 children are affected by these closures - a staggering number in a country where education is already an issue. In 2016, only 57.9% of children finished primary school.

visit to various schools in different areas paints a complex picture: the reasons why they close or why they are empty vary.

Some schools, especially in the Sahel province, are directly targeted by Islamist militants, who are against Western education. Others, like the one in Foubé, are closed by teachers worried that they will be targets.

A number of schools are open but empty because parents are scared their children will be attacked on their way to class.

Near Foubé, we find another school, which is nominally open but its classrooms are empty.

Some of those schools could remain empty for a while: thousands have fled their villages and are now living in camps.

The number of internally displaced people rose from 43,000 in December to 100,000 in January.

Insecurity in the country is not just linked to Islamist militancy and in the camp of Barsalogho, in North Central Region, more than 1,000 people have arrived recently after fleeing inter-communal violence.

Not all those who are displaced have access to emergency education as many have fled to neighbouring villages, living in host communities.

In the village of Gorgadji, in the Sahel Region, 1,000 people have recently arrived, fleeing active armed groups operating in nearby Soum.

According to the administrative head of the village, Boniface Kaboré, only an estimated 30 children have since registered at the 32 schools available in the area.

For now, many parents and their children are living on standby, too afraid to go home, let alone consider school.