A report released by the Human Rights Watch has revealed how Boko Haram is singling out Geography teachers in its campaign against Western education. Teachers of the subject are being targeted because their lessons contradict Boko Haram’s worldview on how the earth was created. The sect believes that the earth is flat rather than spherical, and that rainfall is caused not by evaporation but by God’s divine will. The 86-page report titled ‘They Set the Classrooms on Fire: Attacks on Education in Northeast Nigeria’, documents brutal assaults on schools, students, and teachers since 2009. “Boko Haram insurgents have shown particular distaste for certain subjects like Geography and Science… Teachers of these subjects are targeted,” the report read. One of such attacks took place at the Mafoni Government Day Secondary School, Maiduguri, in September 2012.
Gunmen had invaded the school, killing Anjili Mala, the Geography teacher. A witness told Human Rights Watch that it was only Mala who was killed in the attack. “I dived for protection, but the gunmen simply rained six bullets into the teacher and calmly walked away. No one else was touched,” the witness said. Based on interviews with more than 200 teachers, students, parents and school officials, the report also revealed that more than 910 schools have been destroyed, while at least 1,500 more have closed down. About 611 teachers have been deliberately killed and another 19,000 forced to flee.
“In its brutal crusade against Western-style education, Boko Haram is robbing an entire generation of children in northeast Nigeria of their education,” said Mausi Segun, Human Rights Watch’s Nigeria researcher. The report also found that attacks on some schools were carried out by former pupils with personal grievances against individual teachers. “Teachers responsible for discipline or examination of students appear to have been especially targeted by Boko Haram insurgents,” the report said. It spoke of one attack at Yerwa primary school in Maiduguri in March 2013 in which the gunmen went “directly” to the offices of the main “disciplinarian” in the school and shot him. Later, when soldiers arrived at the school and killed one of the insurgents, he turned out to be to be a former student.