Girls Rescued From Boko Haram Will Return To School This September

The Nigerian government hopes a return to their education will the help ease the girls’ return to society.

All of the 24 girls who were rescued from Boko Haram last year will be returning to school this September, Nigerian officials announced Thursday. As the girls continue to readjust to life after their release or escape from the Islamist militant group last October, advocates and parents have supported the girls return to their schooling as an important step forward. 

"It's important to remember that these young women are not prisoners," psychologist Somiari Demm, who counseled former Boko Haram captives told Reuters. "They are survivors whom we should be aiming to make thrivers."

The girls are among the 276 who were kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, a town in northeast Nigeria, in 2014. The incident sparked international outrage with advocates taking to social media using #BringBackOurGirls. Through a prisoner swap arranged between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, 82 girls were released last week and are currently undergoing medical and security screenings in the capital Abuja. 

Over 100 girls still remain missing. 



The U.N. has urged Nigerians to support the girls in their rehabilitation and reintegration process. U.N. Spokesperson Stephane Dujarri explained to Voice of America that rape victims are frequently shunned in local communities and advocates agree that the girls' families will be key in setting an example for their reception back into society.

"It is heartening to know that the girls will be returning to their families who have been waiting for this day," U.N. Children's Fund official Pernille Ironside told Voice of America. "They will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives alter the indescribable horror and trauma that they have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram."

Around the world, 121 million children are out of school, over half of which are female, due to families dealing with issues such as poverty and conflict. As Nigeria continues to work toward eliminating gender disparity in education, assisting the girls with the completion of their education is an important step toward rebuilding their lives and working toward the future.

"It is better to send them to school," Goni Mutar, father of one of the girls released in October told Reuters. "The president made a promise that he will educate them."

Cover image via Eric Pasqualli / Shutterstock

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