The Federal Government has restated its commitment to a safer teaching and learning environment in the country.
This was disclosed by the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Ahmed Shinkafi, while delivering the opening remarks at a Stakeholders Forum in Abuja on Monday.
“The Federal Government is committed to ensuring a safer teaching and learning environment. In the same vein, the Ministry has committed to creating adequate budgetary allocation for Financing Safe Schools activities,” Shinkafi said.
There has been some increase in terrorist attacks on schools in the terrorism hotbed of the nation since 2014.
Indeed a newsletter published by the Education in Emergencies Working Group states amongst other worrisome statistics that between 2020 and 2021, in the North-West geo-political zone alone 25 educational institutions were attacked and 1470 learners were abducted along with 24 educational personnel.”
According to the newsletter,” in 2021, 11,500 schools in the country were closed due to fear of attacks” but worse still the report says that “in 2020 the attacks disrupted the education of over 5 million children.”
Earlier the Head of the Secretariat of Financing Safe Schools, Mrs Halima Iliya, had delivered the welcome address to the Forum which had in attendance an array of stakeholders across the security, education, finance, economic planning, traditional institution sectors.
In a very touching tone, she said ”the future of our children is in our hands. When you look into a child’s eyes you see pure innocence and purity. Let’s save and protect their future today, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education represented by the Director of Senior Secondary School Hajia Binta Abdulkadir in a good will message revealed that a total of 2270 students from the high risk areas of terrorist activities were either admitted or transferred to 43 Federal Government Colleges otherwise known as Unity Schools, within the North-East, North West and North Central Zones since the establishment of the Safe Schools InItiative (SSI) in 2014 following the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok, a predominantly Christian town of Borno State.
Out of this number, 1734 have graduated and many of them have moved into higher institutions, she added. Explaining the need for increased funding, she stated that the attack on schools has gone far beyond the North East into the North West and North Central zones of the country thereby necessitating greater resources to curb the menace.
The representative of the Chief of Defence Staff speaking on behalf of the security services assured that the armed forces and allied forces are committed to ensuringa safe learning environment for school children all over the country.
Speaking on behalf of the traditional institution, the Emir of Keffi defined a safe school as one where teachers and learners are not distracted, bullying or discrimination is not allowed, where infractions are consistently and fairly addressed. He then proceeded to suggest a number of steps out of the challenge
Some of the royal fathers who were in attendance either physically or by proxy are: Etsu Nupe Dr. Yahaya Abubakar (CFR), Emir of Kontagora Alhaji Ahmed Maikagara, Emir of Keffi, Emir of Minna, Galadima of Abaji, Aguma of Gwagwalada as well as the Gomo of Kuje
Other stakeholders present at the Forum include Honourable David Olofu Chairman of the Forum of Commissioners of Finance of Nigeria; Honorable Solomon Elijah, Chairman of States Commissioners of Economic Planning; Representative of Director-General of Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Ebenezer; Chief Yomi Odubela, President, National Association of Proprietors of Private School s(NAPPS); Chief of Defence headquarters represented by the Director of Education, Defence Headquarters, Rear Admiral Chijoke Finbarrs Azike; Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Interior Dr. Shehu Belgore, among several others.