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UNICEF set to raise Safe School funding

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By Usman Oladimeji

Creating a safe school environment enhances enthusiasm for learning.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is joining forces with state governments to boost funding for safe schools through partnerships with key government officials and stakeholders, as well as offering technical assistance in forming safe school committees. Dr. Tushar Rane, the Chief of UNICEF in the Bauchi Field Office, unveiled this initiative during the conclusion of a three-day program focused on enhancing capacities. The objective of the initiative was to provide teachers, School-Based Management Committee members, and community leaders with a deeper understanding of Safe School Guidelines.

He stated that maintaining school safety is crucial, particularly focusing on the necessity of having secure school facilities and consistent supervision to confirm that schools adhere to basic standards for providing quality and inclusive education. UNICEF has been working diligently to increase public understanding of the importance of community engagement in tackling issues related to school security and fostering a positive educational atmosphere. Dr. Rane emphasized the importance of creating a safe environment in schools to encourage children to attend regularly, as it enhances their enthusiasm for learning.

Govt’ is committed to enacting measures to protect students.

By doing so, it paves the way for a better tomorrow for not only the children but also their communities. The head of UNICEF recognized the Nigerian government’s commitment to enacting various measures to protect students and educators both on and off school grounds. Among the policies implemented by the government aimed at ensuring safe and violence-free schools, include the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI), the Local Adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration (LASSD), the development of Basic Standards for Safe Schools, the National Safety, Security, and Anti-Violence in Schools Policy (NSSAVSP), and the Operational Procedures.

Hauwa Abdullahi, the principal of Mangari Primary School in Bauchi State’s Misau district, conveyed her thanks to the state government and UNICEF for their support. She pledged to enhance the safety of all resources, human and material, at the school. The over 200 Chibok abductions, along with other acts of violence, have caused a decrease in educational opportunities for people in the northeast, especially for girls, creating a ripple effect throughout the country’s education system.

Children have been provided educational opportunities.

It was in response to this troubling situation that the Safe Schools Initiative was initiated by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, in partnership with the Nigerian Global Business Coalition for Education and private sector leaders during the World Economic Forum in Africa. This initiative involves a blend of interventions at schools, community efforts to safeguard educational institutions, and targeted actions for vulnerable groups. Over $30 million has been raised to safeguard schools in Northeast Nigeria since the initiative was first introduced in 2014.

Under the initiative, thousands of Nigerian children affected by Boko Haram attacks have been provided educational opportunities through student transfer programs, school reconstruction efforts, and educational initiatives in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. The government launched the initiative last year in 18 states, aiming to support 48 schools in each state with a budget of ₦144.8 billion from 2023 to 2026. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) also safeguard 21,000 schools out of the 80,000 deemed at risk of being targeted by bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers as part of the initiative.

Related Article: FG commences N145bn safe-school project

While there are still numerous schools that need to be protected, NSCDC has reassured the public of their unwavering dedication to eliminating the ongoing attacks and kidnappings targeting schools and students across the country. To further promote this initiative, the government established the National Safe School Response Coordination Centre (NSSRCC) in 2023. The NSSRCC plays a vital role in ensuring the successful implementation of the initiative process in Nigeria, increasing protection for both educational facilities and host communities by collaborating closely with security forces.

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