Attacks on schools have a devastating impact on children

Plagued by nightmares, Boube* believed that school was no longer a safe environment for him.

UNICEF Burkina Faso
Young boy standing, back to the camera, looking at his old school
UNICEF/UN0538117/Rooftop Productions
19 November 2021

Gorgadji, BURKINA FASO - Boube* is 17-years old. A non-state armed group attacked his school two years ago, resulting in a tragic occurrence that haunted him.

“I was in form one when our school was attacked by unidentified armed men. They killed three people that day and burnt two vehicles,” Boube recalls.

Plagued by nightmares, Boube believed that school was no longer a safe environment for him.

“When we returned to school, the atmosphere was heartbreaking,” he says. “I was terrified when I saw the dead bodies. At night, I had nightmares. Since the day I saw those bodies I refused to go back to school.”

According to one of the community members, Mrs. Sow, schooling for many children has become impossible because of schools being targets.

“Some could not go to school for two years, others for one year, and some others did not even have the possibility to go back to school at all. Only the very lucky ones were able to return to class,” she says.

“The attacks against schools have caused many people to flee and come towards us,” adds Mrs. Sow. She continues, "and those children have lost so many things."

In 2020, three out of the five countries verified by the United Nations as being most affected by attacks on schools and hospitals in armed conflict were in West and Central Africa. Every time a school is attacked, or educational personnel are threatened, hundreds of schools are closed.

Boube fled his village for Gorgardji and worked as a bricklayer for a year before joining UNICEF’s partner association, named Coordination Nationale des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs du Burkina (CN/AEJT).

A young man wearing a green shirt as he welds
UNICEF/UN0538115/Rooftop Productions

“School is important because you are different from your peers who have not been to school.”

Boube*

“My guardian sent me to school and even sent me to a welding shop,” says Boube. Equipped with skills in welding, he plans to be successful one day.

“School is important because you are different from your peers who have not been to school,” he adds.