The Federal Government on Thursday said it had set aside about N435 million for the take off of the safe school initiative.
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said shortly after a meeting with members of the Steering Committee of the Safe Schools Initiative that the money would be for the education of 2,400 students under the scheme.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said all arrangements had been put in place to ensure the successful implementation of the programme.
The meeting, attended by representatives of the private sector, members of the donor Community from Germany, including the Department for International Development, DFID, United Nations, UN, and United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF, was convened to define and fine-tune more strategies and programmes to achieve set objectives.
Others representatives were from the affected states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, as well as key Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies.
The minister said the components involved the transfer of students from the three emergency states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states who wished to go to school in other parts of the country.
The minister disclosed that so far, about 800 students in each of the affected states had been penciled down for the scheme, adding that the students would be enrolled in Unity Schools across the country.
The minister, who said government was ready to start the implementation of the first component of the safe school initiative, pointed out that it was a purely voluntary programme.
“Parents who have said that they would like their children from Junior secondary school (JSS 1) and above to sebior secondary school (SSS) 3 to go to unity schools in other parts of the country.
On the alternative, she said those who would want to go to other places have already made themselves known, adding that having identified 800 students per state for a total of 2400 students, government was ready to take off with the programme.
According to the minister, government was going to support the cost of education of the students, adding that for the 2,400 students the initial cost for the first year would be about N435 million.
The Deputy Governor of Borno State, Zannah Mustapha, said the safe school project would also help young people in the Internal Displaces Persons’ (IDP), camps to have access to education at public cost.
The President of the Society for the Protection of Women Against Abuse, Ngozi Nwankwo, said it was for IDPs that the education would be starting with the psycho-socio support for the students.
According to her, the group had actually done part of the work, while the students in the Unity Schools were very receptive to the idea after they were enlightened on the students coming to join them.
“We have done part of it and it is working really good. The principals and the teachers also are being sensitized now,” Mrs. Nwankwo said.
“Definitely, they know what to expect and we expect the best for these students, because what we want to achieve at the end of the day is what started out as a bad experience they are going to use for good.”
She explained that amongst the students who had received psycho-socio support in the past, one of them wae actually in the U.S at the moment, with plans to come back to assist other Nigerians.
She expressed optimism that at the end of the project, Nigeria would have a very good result from what was meant to be a very terrible experience.