Education is Forbidden
I began the “Education is Forbidden” project with a need to understand what it means to be a student living in the midst of the Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria.
“Boko Haram”, which loosely translates to “Western education is forbidden,” began an insurgency in the region in 2009 with the aim of creating an Islamic state purged from all Western influence, especially secular education.
The insurgents have directly targeted schools, universities, teachers and students with thousands of students abducted, displaced and killed by the group.
There was a schism in the way students were described in books and media and the current reality, so I used illustrations from Nigerian school books and snippets of other media imagery to take a more abstract approach that touched on themes of transience, memory, history and trauma.
Schools are supposed to be neutral safe spaces where knowledge is transferred to students. Today their boundaries have become reservoirs of uncertainty and fear.
Statistics and reports can’t by themselves convey the anxiety and vulnerability of a student that feels unsafe. A pock marked blackboard exposed over a portrait of a school girl, can begin to communicate a lingering trauma and infrastructural decay that began decades before, but is now destabilised by conflict.