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Nigeria: FG Expresses Total Commitment to Safe School Initiative, Promises Timely Release of Funds

“We must therefore ensure that every child is able to learn in a safe environment where they can get the quality education they need to unlock their full potential.”

Nigeria’s Federal Government has expressed total commitment towards the success of it’s safe school initiative, insisting that since education remain perhaps the most important factor in the 17 sustainable development goals, Nigeria must ensure

that school are made safe for learning.

 Speaking at the Official Flag-off Ceremony of the a national Schools Security Emergency Response Centre in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agha said the occasion represents the culmination of some of the steps of the present administration to improving school safety for children, noting that: “Security in recent times is becoming a major concern to the average man or woman on the street simply because of the high rate of crimes in various parts of the world. We must therefore support every effort geared towards making our schools safe. This initiative is one of such efforts.”

Agha while reiterating that education is a powerful agent of change, and improves health and livelihoods, contributes to social stability and drives long-term economic growth, said it is also essential to the success of every one of the 17 sustainable development goals.

“We must therefore ensure that every child is able to learn in a safe environment where they can get the quality education they need to unlock their full potential and contribute to building a better Nigeria,” he advocated.

He said: “I believe proactive strategies are the keys to safe schools by focusing on a balanced approach to prevention, intervention, security and emergency preparedness, combined with improving school safety communications, school climate, psychological support services, and meaningful relationships with public organisations with interest in safety.”

He disclosed that: “The Federal government has already committed to the financing of safe schools through the National Plan on Financing Safe Schools.”

He noted that a high- level forum entitled “Financing Safe Schools: Creating Safe Learning Communities’’ was held in April 2021, which highlighted government’s commitment to providing adequate funding for implementation of the National SSD Plan of Action 2021– 2023.

He said the federal government through the relevant ministries is committed to creating adequate budgetary allocation for financing the federal government initiated safe schools programme. He added that: “I align myself with that commitment and the further commitment to ensuring that we will also play our part in ensuring prompt release of budgeted funds for its implementation.”

Earlier, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr. Ahmed Audi has reiterated the uncompromised determination of the Corps to ensure at all times the safety of lives of Nigerian school children and protection of school facilities as mandated by the Federal Government.

He disclosed that a special committee of the Corps has been working assiduously towards the production of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for this national project with a view to ensuring that its objective forms part of the cardinal responsibilities of the Corps.

He said: ”In view of the importance of education and human capital development towards overall national development, it has become expedient for the Federal Government to deploy extraordinary measures to tackle the spate of attacks on school facilities in Nigeria. Such effort is the commitment and endorsement by the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure that all Nigerian schools become safe and secured for uninterrupted teaching and learning activities.

“Accordingly, in the consideration for a multi-sectorial working group, the NSCDC has been made the lead agency with the mandate to host the National Safe Schools Response and Coordination Centre.”

He pointed out that no nation can achieve sustainable development in the face of widespread insecurity of lives and properties, with immense cases of insecurity that stem from high profile crimes, perpetrated through transnational syndication and racketeering which have continuously posed threats to the survival of nations.

He recalled that: ”Nigeria’s political history has been replete with various forms of violent insecurity challenges ranging from the civil war, election related mayhem, riots and protests, militancy, insurgency and herdsmen and farmers clashes. However, the rise of Boko-haram sect has created a new dimension to Nigeria’s insecurity problems. The main ideological objective of this violent extremist group is strangely, to target the elimination of western education in Nigeria.”

He said: “The negative operations of this group against education became glaring following the abduction of 276 students of Government Girls College, Chibok. Following afterwards were several other cases of attacks of several other secondary schools with cases of kidnapping of teachers and students.

”There were also cases of killing of students and their teachers. Bombs were brazenly detonated in school assemblies, destroying the lives of many students and teachers such as the case of the Yobe school attack while school buildings were burnt, hindering teaching and learning. Intelligence also revealed cases of dormitory raping, though several other attacks remained unreported. Statistics however shows that about 2,295 teachers have been killed and 19,000 others displaced in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States between 2009 and 2018 alone while an estimate of 1, 500 schools had been destroyed since 2014, with over 1,280 casualties among teachers and students.”

He lamented that: “These violent attacks have negative effect on teaching and learning thereby reversing our sustainable national development efforts.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja