By Victoria Onehi
Founder of the Girl-Child Concern,Dr. Mairo Mandara has urged government at all levels to improve on the safety of the girl-child in schools accross the country.
Mandara was speaking as one of the panelist on the topic School Safety and how it is exacerbating early marriage in Nigeria at the 22 Regular National Council for Women Conference with the theme Gender Inclusivity and Women Economic Empowerment, making the Change work for Women and Children held in Abuja on Wednesday.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs in collaboration with the Development Research and Projects Centres (dRPC) Build Project by Ford Foundation.
“For the girls,security is life.For the girls, security is key.If the girls are not secured,it means the country is done for. Hence, the security of girls should be uppermost in the heart of the politicians campaigning and the government.”She said.
Mandara further said, government must pay attention to Girl-Child Education as the level of education of the girl-child leads to the development of any nation.
Speaking further on the effect of insecurity on the children, the Sarkin Yakin Gagi from Sokoto state, Alhaji Sani UmarJabbi, said because of the level of insecurity in schools,many girls have dropped out of school and are forced into early marriege.
” Because the safety of children especially girls cannot be ascertain anymore, many parents have asked their girl-chid to drop-out of school and go and marry.
“To redress this, we as traditional institutions are now involved in advocacy visits to people in our communities to enlighten them that without sending their girl-child to school to have the basic secondary education,they cannot further their education and become female doctors and health professionals to take care of them.” Jabbi explains.
On what the government is doing to stem the security challenges,the Commissioner Human Services and Social Development in Kaduna state,Hafsat Muhammed Baba said the security of the children in schools is very important and the government is doing its best to secure children in school.
” We started by fencing the schools to ensure safety,We also have a Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs.This Ministry is saddled with responsibility of ensuring children are secured in schools.Also, we looked at schools which are at a distance and we brought their students closer to nearby schools for safety of the children.We don’t want to loose them to child marriege.” Baba said.
She urged the Federal Government to emulate some of these steps taken to ensure the safety of children in schools accross the country.
The Magaji Zandam from Katsina State,Ambasador Gidado Suleiman Farfaru also speaking in the panel said though alot of schools were shut down in the state due to the security challenges,but respite came with the introduction of an Initiative, ‘Education in Emergency’.
” Recently,the Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC) with support from the Ford Foundation came up with an innovative programme ‘Education in Emergency’.I am one of the team members in Katsina State.We received training on emergency evacuation processes and how the students can safeguard themselves when there are attacks.
“We have cascade the knowledge to students in schools.We taught them warning strategies for them to be alert on their way going to school,coming back home or even when they are in school. So,this programme ‘Education in Emergency’ bring back hope to us that our children will be helped to learn properly.We started at the Government Girls School in Katsina and we invited students from various schools and gave the step-down training.” Farfaru explained.