230 Nigerian schoolgirls between the ages of 16 and 18, who were abducted by gunmen 12 days ago are still missing. The girls had been taking their final exams in one of the few schools open in the North of the country. Schools have been regularly targeted by armed members of the Boko Haram group, which is campaigning against what it sees as western education and particularly against the education of girls. Many school children and teachers have been killed by the group, as recently as last February tens of children were killed when gunmen set fire to their dormitory in a boarding school.

Parents have gone into the forest themselves in an attempt to find their children who come from both muslim and christian backgrounds. They are outraged at the failure of the state to protect their children and the half-hearted nature of any attempt at rescue. As one prominent author, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani put it, the situation is having a profound effect on the entire country:

It's a situation of present, continuous agony. Everybody is terrified at the thought of what they might be going through. There's just no reason why these girls could have been targeted. They're so innocent, so harmless.They're probably Muslim and Christian. It's frightening. They're not being seen as Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo [three of Nigeria's major ethnic groups]. They're not being seen as northerners or easterners. They're just seen as children.

As we reported at the time, going to school in the face of such brutality is yet another example of the heroism of so many teachers and students in the global South, who teach and learn often against impossible odds. Some face brutality, but many have to work in intolerable conditions and for starvation pay. These stories make the World Bank's attempts to blame teachers for the failure to reach the so-called millennium development goal of primary education for all by 2015, even more monstrous.

The Nigerian National Union of Teachers (NUT) and its sister union for university teachers ASUU, put the blame where it belongs - on the failure to protect schools and to fund education properly. That's why the ASUU was on strike for several months last year and why teachers throughout Nigeria are continually having to take strike action just to secure their minimal basic pay.

The desperate poverty which stalks the country, even as multinational oil corporations reap mega profits from its rich natural resources, is what creates the conditions for groups like Boko Haram to carry out their barbaric actions. This website sends its sincere fellow feeling and solidarity to the parents of the schoolgirls who are so desparately worried about their loved ones.