Dangerous Minds. Teach the Koran or Die

Antonio Aragon Renuncio, Nicaragua

In recent years, Burkina Faso, a country permanently stuck at the top of the world’s poverty list despite having been one of the safest in West Africa, has been the target of more than 300 attacks by radical Islamic groups linked to Dáesh. Jihadists began to carry out operations in the country after the agreements with former president, Blaise Compaoré – overthrown in 2014 after 27 years of iron dictatorship – ended, who had given them support in exchange for not carrying out violent actions in Burkina. The military targets of the jihadists include government offices and members of the army and police.

Education in French (official language) and teachers have become central to the attacks and have forced more than 1000 schools to close, leaving 150,000 children without classes in the last year alone, and forcing 60% of the teachers to abandon their work and seek refuge. The jihadist threat to teachers in Burkina, which is spreading rapidly to other countries in the region, is clear: teach the Koran or die.

Children are afraid. They don’t go to school anymore. They fear an attack and they have started studying at home. Improvised blackboards, regiments of children learning from each other (the older ones teach the younger ones) – a great swirl of creative and cultural resistance.

„Education generates trust. Trust generates hope. Hope generates peace”…

Discover more: Shortlist 2019