Education in Danger: Arson Attacks on Schools in West Africa


On 10 March 2023, a school was set on fire and burned by suspected Jama’at Nusrat Al-Islam Wa Al-Muslimeen (JNIM) militants in Sanguen village, Namentenga province, in the Centre-Nord region of Burkina Faso. Such an attack further undermines access to education in a country where only 46% of the population was literate in 2021 according to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics. It is the latest incident in a longer history of arson attacks on schools in Central and West Africa.

According to monitoring by Insecurity Insight, at least 130 arson attacks on schools were reported across Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger and Nigeria between 01 January 2018 and 30 June 2023. Almost half of the attacks (61 of the total of 131) were recorded in Burkina Faso where they were especially frequent in 2022 but recurred every year across the period analysed. The majority of attacks in Burkina Faso were attributed to JNIM militants which have perpetrated such violence as part of their opposition to education they regard as ‘Western.’ Remaining incidents were spread widely across the four other countries with the exact motivations of the attacks varying according to the context such a in Cameroon where separatists fighters have opposed Francophone education in the Anglophone regions of the country. Other named perpetrators include Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the Macina Liberation Front.

The findings are based on the 2018-2023 West and Central Africa Arson Attacks Dataset by Insecurity Insight, which is available for download on HDX.

Source : Reliefweb