By Funmilayo Adeyemi, Abuja.
The Federal Government says it is working toward providing a secured environment for learners and teachers, while promoting the safe school declaration.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said this on Friday at the commemoration of the 2022 International Day to Protect Education from Attack in Abuja.
The International Day to Protect Education from Attack is observed on Sept. 9, since its proclamation in 2020 by the United Nations General Assembly.
The day is celebrated to stimulate global awareness of how the protracted nature of conflicts affects entire generations of children, as children living in conflict zones, without access to safe education, face the risk of growing up without essential skills and knowledge.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr David Adejo, said that there was need to protect education against insecurity, emergency and humanitarian situations.
Adamu said that the ministry was also working to strengthen efforts, increase funding to encourage safe and protective environments in areas of humanitarian emergencies.
“We also need to draw attention to the need to restrict the military use of educational facilities and galvanise political commitment to protect education during emergency situations.
“As you are aware, education is the most important investment a country can make for its future, in view of its potential in bringing about change in every aspect of development as well as driving long-term economic growth.
“The benefits of education are too many to individuals and to the society. The success of each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) depends on education.
“An educated society is healthier and has higher rates of economic stability, lower crime rates, better civic involvement and greater equality.
“Unfortunately, all over the world, education has been under threat,” he said.
Adamu quoted the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) as saying that between 2015 and 2019, over 93 countries of the world had witnessed at least one form of attack on education.
According to him, Nigeria is not spared of the menace.
“The incessant attacks on the country’s education system, meted out in forms of kidnapping, abduction of pupils/students, banditry, increased activities of insurgence and general insecurity in our schools, have exacerbated the many factors responsible for the growing number of out-of-school children.
“As we know, out-of-school children are easy targets of abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed bandits and groups.
“Education can be a life-saver and school should be able to provide a safe space, where children can be protected from threats and crises,” he said.
The minister moaned that in recent times. the country had witnessed increased number of abductions, which led to the abrupt closure of schools in some parts of the country, thereby reinforcing the need for enhanced safety of the schools.
Ms Abiola Sanusi, the Senior Policy and Strategy Adviser, Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), called for a policy document by the ministry that would address the safety, security and violence in schools.
She also called on government agencies and development partners to commit resources to the safety of schools, while also training teachers and other staff in measures to ensure their safety.
Prof. Benjamin Abakpa, Executive Secretary, National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC), said that NSSEC was paying attention to the security of secondary education in the country.
Abakpa, represented by Mrs Ayodele Adigun, Director of Senior Secondary Education, NSSEC, said that the commission was awaiting funding that would enable it to fast-track the deployment of security gadgets in schools.
“One of the activities in the commission is to look at safety in all the senior secondary schools; we are looking at how the commission can put safety gadgets in all the schools.
“By the time we get our two-per-cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), we will provide CCTV, employ more security personnel and put perimeter fencing in schools to safeguard our learners.
“This is a new commission and so, we are expecting our grant. And the bill is already in the National Assembly and hoping that before the year runs out, we will get our grant to start our projects,” he said.