Hundreds of children rescued from ‘torture’ schools in Nigeria

By: washington post

The students had come to study the Koran. Instead, officials said, they faced beatings, shackles and dormitories that looked more like jail cells.

Police in Nigeria have freed about 1,000 children and adults from four Islamic schools over the past month, calling conditions in the loosely regulated institutions inhumane.

The crackdown has increased pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to tighten oversight on traditional private schools known as Almajiris, which teach millions of children in the country’s predominantly Muslim north.

Recently Authorities released 147 students from one facility in Kaduna state. The pupils, who wore maroon uniforms, were taken to a camp where police assessed their condition and contacted relatives.

An estimated 10 million children attend Islamic schools in Nigeria, which for centuries were a path to becoming a religious scholar. 

Some parents pay tuition for their children to memorize the Koran. Others hope religious leaders can help youths facing drug addiction and mental illness in areas that lack formal health care. 

house of torture

And on Sept. 27, authorities discovered 500 men and boys living in what Kaduna Police Chief Ali Janga described to the BBCas a “house of torture,” triggering a wave of scrutiny of such institutions across the region.

Children as young as 5 were kept in chains, officials said. Police released a photo of a boy with scars down his back and arms. 

Leaders of the schools raided by police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Enrollment in religious education has increased as parents, who often cannot afford primary school fees, seek alternatives that look honorable on the surface, said Matthew Page, associate fellow at Chatham House’s Africa Program in London.