By Victoria Onehi
The Federal Government has restated its commitment to ensuring safety of pupils and students in schools accross the country.
The Permanent Secretary Finance (Special Duties) Shehu Shinkafi, stated this at the National Stakeholdes Engagement Forum on Financing Safe Schools with the theme Financing Safe Schools in Nigeria: Issues and Strategic Options which held in Abuja yesterday.
In his opening remarks,Shinkafi said the Federal Government is committed to ensuring a safe teaching and learning environment.
“In the same vein,the Ministry is committed to creating adequate allocation for Financing Safe Schools activities.”he said.
The Head,Secretariat on Financing Safe Schools, Mrs Halima Iliya said in order to stem increasing attacks on educational facilities,it became necessary to develop a National Plan. ” This will incoporate State Level Plans as well as Federal Government sectoral plans with an emphasis on ensuring adequate budgeting allocation in order to create a safe learning and teaching environment .The Plan is set at three years spending plans for financing and creating safe learning in Nigeria.”she said.
The Commissioner of Education, Niger State who spoke on behalf of Commissioners of Education from the States, Hajiya Hannatu Jibrin said the state governments are already overwhelmed by the security challenges.
“We are happy as Commissioners of Education that there is an initiative of financing safe schools. This will complement the efforts of our State Governors.” She said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, represented by the Director,Senior Secondary School Education,Hajiya Binta Abdulkadir said one of the actions by the Nigerian government in the effort to safeguard education is the endosement of the Safe School Declaretion (SSD) in 2015.
“President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2019 signed the SSD Ratification Document signalling Nigerias commitment to uphold the principles of the SSD.The National Policy on Safety and Violence Free Schools was approved in August 2021.” She said.
The Head, Hope for Community and Children Initiatives Hadiza Umar, said with these policies in place, government should work hand-in-hand with Civil Societies and Non Governmental organisations and other stakeholdes to implement them.
Similarly, Director,Afro Centre for Development,Peace and Justice,Augusta Keneboh, said mobilising community participation in the protection of schools is very important.
” We feel community leaders should be trained to know and understand issues that have to do with emergencies preparedness.Not building there capacity alone but building their skills in communications,skills in reporting and skills in monitoring.” She said.
Corroborating this,the Emir of Kagara, HRH Ahmed Garba-Gonna said the traditional institutions have a role to play because they are the closest authority to the people.”
“We have formed local hunters groups and vigilantes to safe guard schools in our communities and we need grants and sponsors of these groups.” he said.
Speaking in the same vein,the General Editor, Daily Trust Newspaper, Hamza Idris, said there is need to secure the communities in order to secure the schools.
” We need to secure our communities then we can secure the schools because schools are in the communities.
Also,if monies are released to help solve security challenges,what is ment for,it should be used for.” Idris said.
Development Research and Projects Centre, the dRPC , supported the participation of Civil Society organisations at the safe school stakeholders conference organised by the Federal Ministry of Finance.