By Barbara Goldberg

On the front page of Saturday’s Los Angeles Times was this headline: “Former students in Nigeria hunt down teachers.” This is happening just across the border from where we work in Niger, West Africa. It is just the latest incident in the vicious campaign that Boko Haram has been waging against innocent people, focused on eliminating secular education, especially for girls.

In this most recent attack, students hunted down their former teachers, killing or threatening to kill them if they continue teaching.

With education as Boko Haram’s target, it is even more critical to ensure that girls throughout West Africa go to school. Boko Haram has crossed the border into Niger on several occasions, but the Nigerien government and its neighbors have pushed them back. However, Niger and other West African countries remain at risk from Boko Haram.

In rural Niger, education for girls can only happen when a well is drilled in a village. It is only when girls no longer have to walk miles to get water that they have the time to go to school.

The effects of educating girls have been well documented. When girls go to school, they…
• marry later.
• have children later and are less likely to die in childbirth.
• are better able to work and earn money for their families.
• make sure that their children get an education.

Education for girls is vital to ending the downward spiral of poverty in the poorest country in the world.