More than 6 000 teachers have been killed and 19 000 others displaced as a result of attacks by the Boko Haram terror group in Nigeria.
This is among other tragic trends that has seen 1 200 schools destroyed during a violent campaign by the insurgents to carve an Islamic State northeast of Nigeria over the past seven years.
The terror has spread to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger leaving the region now home to a quarter of the world’s estimated 59 million out-of-school children.
Save the Children’s Country has described the problem as arguably the worst education crisis in the world.
“This insurgency is based on an ideology that western education is evil and that children, teachers and schools are all legitimate targets,” said Ben Foot, Save the Children’s Country Director in Nigeria.
“The consequences have been record lows in enrolment, terrible literacy rates and arguably the worst education crisis in the world. We cannot stand by as an entire generation of children loses its right to go to school.”
The organisation reported children as old as 15 were flooding into pre-school facilities, taught by volunteer teachers, in a desperate effort to learn after years of conflict denied them basic education.
“This desperate quest for education reflects the hunger of children for knowledge that is not being met, which is heart-breaking” said Foot.
Around 80 percent of some 1 million children displaced by the conflict are living in remote host communities with little or no access to education.
The situation is particularly dire for girls.
While the average Nigerian receives nine years of schooling, the figure drops to two years for girls in the north-east.
Save the Children said Donors and governments must pledge at least US84 million for education for 2017.