The minister said the incessant attacks on the country’s education system have exacerbated the many factors responsible for the growing number of Out-of-School Children
In commemoration of the 2022 International Day to Protect Education from Attack (IDPEA), the Nigerian government has urged stakeholders in the education sector to make use of the guidelines contained in the National Policy on School Safety which was developed in 2021.
The stakeholders, according to the government, include state governments, education institutions, civil society organisations, the Military, and the general public
Speaking at an event to commemorate the IDPEA on Friday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said his ministry is currently developing the National Plan of Action for the Minimum Standards for Safe School for 2021-2023.
Following the ratification of the Safe School Declaration (SSD) by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, the education ministry developed a National Policy on Safety, Security, and Violence-Free Schools (NPSSVFS), he said.
He said: “The School Safety Policy copiously highlights the strategies for emergency preparedness in education institutions, measures for harm reduction, stakeholders to contact for help in case of imminent attack, deterrence of the Military from using education institutions and procedures to ensure that education continues if the attack is inevitable.
“Plans are underway for the launch and dissemination of the developed SSD documents to the grassroots.”
The Minister noted that the essence of commemorating the day is to raise awareness on issues confronting the education system, particularly attacks on students and educational facilities.
The minister was represented by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, David Adejo.
He said it is important to “protect education against insecurity, emergency and humanitarian situations, strengthen efforts and increase funding, to encourage safe and protective environments in areas of humanitarian emergencies, take practicable measures to protect learners, teachers and schools and restrict the military use of educational facilities.”
The minister said the incessant attacks on the country’s education system have exacerbated the many factors responsible for the growing number of Out-of-School Children.
According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) there’s been over 13,400 reports of attacks on education or military use of educational facilities worldwide– with more than 25,000 students, teachers, and academics injured, killed, or harmed in such attacks carried out in situations of armed conflicts or insecurity.
In Nigeria, there have been at least 28 incidents of school attacks in the country after the abduction of over 276 girls in Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists.
In Zamfara State, for instance, at least 75 schools have remained shut for over a year over the fear of attacks by terrorists often referred to as bandits.
Recently in the federal capital territory, Abuja, the management of the Federal Government College, (FGC) Kwali, swiftly mobilised the evacuation of students, also over the fear of terror attack.
In an earlier briefing on Thursday, the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, had said the Ministry chose the theme, “Implementing the School Safety Policy as a Tool To Protect Education From Attack: Our Collective Responsibility,” to emphasise the role of all stakeholders in protecting the schools from attack.
Recalling the closure of FGC Kwali, over the fear of attacks, Mr Opiah said while the measure was not a permanent one, it was initiated to protect the school, lives and safety of students and teachers.
He, however, said the ministry is working with security agencies to ensure that the school resumes alongside other schools.
He said: “It was a right action in the right direction and the ministry demands commendation for that action. This is because it was during the examination period. The schools were shut but the students were taken to other schools to complete their examinations.
“Schools are about to reopen and FGC, Kwali will also join them. We are working with security agencies because the security of our children is very important to us.”
Mr Opiah said: “The theme foregrounds the education sector’s hands-on actions to protect education from violent situations and armed conflict thereby upholding the right to education and its continuity in such emergencies as enshrined in the Safe School Declaration which Nigeria ratified on the 20th March 2019.
International Day To Protect Education From Attack
The day, first celebrated in 2020, was initiated by Qatar and co-sponsored by 62 other countries at the 76th United Nations General Assembly. The UN assembly unanimously endorsed it and has been celebrating it since then. While the focus for the year is “Act now to protect education from attack,” Nigeria adopted the theme: “Implementing the School Safety Policy as a Tool To Protect Education From Attack: Our Collective Responsibility,” to mark the day.
Mr Adamu said the Education in Emergencies Working Group Nigeria (EiEWG Nigeria), established in 2012, is still working on coordinating education response in the northeast states affected by the insurgency.
According to him, the Group that the Federal Ministry of Education is leading comprises UNICEF, PLAN International, Save the Child Initiative, GOALPrime Organization, Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), Street Child International, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), States Ministries of Education, State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), among others.
He listed the achievement of the group to include the development of Education in Emergency Curriculum for Basic Education, training of teachers in the identification of early warning signs and the Indigenous preparedness and responsive actions to ensure safe schools.
The minister assured that the government and relevant stakeholders will continue to work to end attacks on education and its facilities.
“I want to assure you, that the Federal Government of Nigeria, relevant security agencies, Education in Emergencies Working Group, (EiEWG), and all the relevant stakeholders are continually working hard to highlight the aims of this important day, to end attacks on education and to ensure a safe, enabling learning environment,” he said.
SOURCE: PREMIUM TIME