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MacJohn Nwaobila on Boko Haram abductions

The minister of education responds to criticism after hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped by the armed group.

Last updated: 30 May 2014 11:55
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Getting an education in Nigeria is dangerous. Recently, more than 200 girls were abducted from a school in the northeastern state of Borno by insurgents. The daring raid is believed to have been carried out by an Islamic rebel group called Boko Haram - translated, the name means "Western education is sinful".

Since their emergence in 2010, the rebels have waged a violent campaign aimed at establishing a state governed by sharia law, with many of their victims being teachers and students. 

The insurgents have their own ways of operating, and one challenge we have is that they are faceless. If you are dealing with somebody you know one-on-one you can talk, but it created that problem when you are dealing with faceless people .

- MacJohn Nwaobila, Nigeria's p ermanent education secretary  

Amnesty International reports that in northern Nigeria last year, Boko Haram killed some 70 teachers and more than 100 students, while over 100 schools were either closed or burnt down.

Teachers have had to flee for their lives and thousands of children have been forced out of schools. The families of the missing girls are distraught, and the public has criticised the government for not doing enough to rescue the girls or hunt down their kidnappers.

The insurgency has further fractured an already crippled schooling system in northern Nigeria, where girls in particular are often robbed of their right to an education.

The region has the lowest rate of female student enrolment in the country, and girls are frequently married off at a much younger age than in other parts of the country.

Nigeria's Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Dr MacJohn Nwaobila, is feeling international pressure as he attends the Educate a Child summit in Doha. 

So what is next for Nigeria? Is negotiation with the rebel group still possible? And what is the future of the country's educational system? 

With the spotlight on his government's efforts to protect the country's school children,  MacJohn Nwaobila  sits down and talks to Al Jazeera.

Talk to Al Jazeera  can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430.   

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Al Jazeera
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