Students from Nigeria are now free to seek education abroad after being taken captive

Emmanuel Benson had planned to obtain his diploma in horticulture from Nigeria's Federal College of Forestry Mechanization. After being kidnapped earlier this year by bandits along with many others, he is hesitant to return to school.

Students from Nigeria are now free to seek education abroad after being taken captive

The 24-year-old stated that Nigerian students are at greatest risk, particularly in Kaduna state. He said that he was determined to finish his studies, but "the kidnappings and all the other activities that are going on have not stopped yet... it doesn't serve anybody to stay here anymore."

Benson is one of a growing number of Nigerian students looking for alternative education options that won't put them at risk. Bandits in Nigeria's northern states are becoming more determined and staging increased kidnappings to make it easier for students to be taken hostage.

According to parents and teachers at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Kaduna, 25 Nigerian students were held in custody by gunmen for nearly two months.

The Associated Press was told by some of the Kaduna college students and their parents that they have not been the same since May after seven weeks in captivity. They are afraid of going to Nigeria for education and now depend on a school committee to oversee their overseas education application.

They don't know how this enrollment will work, but they hope for scholarships in the U.S.

Nigeria is no longer an option because it is "not safe", according to Paul Yahaya (one of the 25 students).

Kaduna state residents report that many families are now staying indoors due to fears of terrorist attacks. Ransoms can be very high and parents in Nigeria are experiencing hardship due to the 40% national poverty rate.

Abdullahi Usman (chair of the committee of parents, teachers) said that even the parents are struggling to pay the ransom for their (abducted) children. He also stated that they had paid a large amount to negotiators who helped secure the release of their children.

Students who leave would have to start tertiary education again and lose at least three years of their previous studies.

According to Peter Hawkins (the representative of the U.N. Children's Agency Nigeria), the 25 students hoping to go are among 1,436 students abducted in Africa's largest country in the past year. He said that school abductions have affected the education of as many as 1.3 million children in Nigeria.