A non-governmental organisation, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, has expressed commitment towards achieving the domestication of the outcomes of Safe School Declaration in Kwara State.
Speaking during the week at a briefing to mark the 2022 Global Action Week for Education (GAWE), the group’s executive director, Abideen Olasupo, said a series of activities have lined up to drive the domestication and implementation of the declaration in the state.
Mr Olasupo said the activities, which will be executed in partnership with the state’s education ministry, are being supported by the development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC) and the Ford Foundation.
The Nigerian government had ratified the Safe School Declaration in October 2021 during the fourth international conference on the Safe Schools Declaration which was held in Abuja, the national federal capital territory.
Schools in Nigeria have in the past years witnessed several attacks, forcing the closures in some parts of the North-west and North-east, in particular.
The schools in the South-east have also continued to suffer attacks by ethnic agitators, even as no schools open on Mondays in observance of sit-at-home order by the agitators.
Mr Olasupo has, therefore, called for the provision of more security in schools, safe and accessible learning environments for children in emergency situations, and regular training for teachers.
He said: “Let me at this point note that keeping our schools safe should not be seen as the duty of the government alone.
“We all have a role to play; community and religious leaders, security agencies, civil society organisations, people with special needs, parents, and community-based groups must all get involved. In matters of security, we are all stakeholders.
“We must assist security agencies with information and intelligence gathering, which is key to preventing some of these attacks on schools”
Mr Olasupo also pledged that his team will, as part of its project, embark on advocacy and awareness programmes as well as workshops for teachers and those he described as community champions.
He said; “As part of our programmes, we will hold an awareness programme on ‘Safe Schools’ in 50 schools across the three senatorial districts of Kwara State. We shall also hold a community town hall meeting involving relevant stakeholders to discuss how to keep our schools safe.
“Additionally, we will organise workshops for teachers and community champions on the process of implementing minimum standards for safe schools, the roles of teachers and community members in safeguarding students, school emergency preparedness and response and evacuation drill. We will also distribute safety kits to schools in the state.”
He added that; “The dPRC has through its Safe School CSO Movement supported 24 CSOs across the 6 geo-political zones with funding from Ford Foundation to conduct Safe School Declaration step-down activities and workshops.”
Safe School Initiative
The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attacks reported that between 2015 and 2019, there were more than 11,000 reported attacks on educational facilities and/or students and education personnel, harming more than 22,000 students and educators in at least 93 countries.
Nigeria has a fair share of these attacks on pupils and teachers mostly on school facilities.
According to the Coalition’s report, Nigeria has experienced over 100 attacks on its schools within this period.
In response to deliberate attacks on schools and students in different parts of the world including Nigeria, the Nigerian government ratified the Safe School Declaration.
The Declaration was a commitment from governments around the world to keep schools, students, and teachers safe in times of conflicts.
It is also to ensure that learning activities continue to take place during armed conflicts.
Quoting statistics of the violent attacks on schools in Nigeria, Mr Olasupo said; “On 14th of April 2014, more than 200 school girls were abducted at a school in Chibok, Borno State. In February, 2018, Boko Haram insurgents attacked Government Girls Science and Technology College in Dapchi, Yobe State, where a large number of school girls were reported missing. Also, in December, 2020, over 300 school boys along with their teachers were kidnapped by bandits from Government Science School, Kankara in Katsina State.”
He said as of November 2021, UNICEF reported that at least 25 attacks on schools had been recorded in Nigeria in 2021 alone, with no fewer than 1,400 students abducted.
“Aside from the aforementioned cases, there have been many cases of reported attacks by gunmen on schools in Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger states, during which hundreds of students were abducted,” he added.
He noted that the attacks have forced state governments to shut down schools, pushing thousands of children at risk of missing out on education.
He said many children are also afraid of going back to school, thereby adding to the number of out-of-school children in the country.
The number of out-of-school children in the country is already at 10.5 million, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.
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