Fear of attacks keeps 150,000 children away from school in Burkina

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) – More than 150,000 children are not going to school in Burkina Faso because of the threat of extremist violence, the Education Minister has said, warning of a “deteriorating” situation in the West African nation.

More than 1,100 schools have been forced to close or temporarily shutdown due to assaults and threats by radical extremists, Stanislas Ouaro said on Thursday.

“This year the situation is deteriorating,” he said. “There are schools closed for a few weeks, a few months and others since the beginning of the (school) year.”

The school year began in October 2018 but some 5,000 teachers are unable to work, he said. More than 300 people have been killed in Burkina Faso – part of the troubled vast Sahel region – in four years of extremist attacks, according to an AFP count.

School closures have spread from the country’s conflict-ridden north to the east, the minister said.