A report released by Cordoba’s education secretary reveals that some 1,000 children did not return to school this year after their families were displaced by conflict in the northern Colombian department, reported El Heraldo on Monday.
According to Mirid Sornoza Argumedo, the students were unable to return to school due to terrorism and displacement activities of the emerging criminal groups in the area, including both guerrilla and paramilitary forces.
The conflict is said to have most severely affected schools in the rural zones of Puerto Libertador, Valencia and Tierralta.
Sornoza Argumedo said that despite several door-to-door campaigns designed to encourage students to return to class, enrollment figures were significantly lower at the start of this academic year than the last, going from 265,000 students to 236,000.
“After the fighting, fear has increased amongst parents and they have left their homes,” said the secretary, explaining that studies would be undertaken to find methods of making students and parents feel safer in the institutions.
Cordoba is one of the Colombian departments most affected by guerrilla and paramilitary warfare, related to drug trafficking and other terrorist activities in the area.
Recent studies have revealed a disproportionately high number of assassinations of school teachers and educators within the region. Department officials are as a result working on new initiatives, such as the Association of Teachers of Cordoba, which identifies all schools as peace zones and aims to distance them from armed conflict.