April 18, 2024

Over 1,000 students, educators, abducted, killed or harmed in Nigeria – UNICEF

childhood killer diseases

..inaugurates Benue Steering Committee on Safe Schools

…supporting 14 States to fully domesticate Safe School Policy

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Thursday disclosed that available data indicated that Nigeria has a record of over 1,000 students or educators who are abducted, killed or harmed.

The UNICEF Education Specialists, Enugu Field Office, Dr. Agatha Nzeribe who made this known Thursday in Makurdi during the inauguration of the Benue State Steering Committee on Safe Schools, at the end of a four-day training/inauguration, said the figure was the highest globally.

Dr. Nzeribe blamed the development on the fact that Nigeria had experienced several attacks on the education sector, with the North East states being the worst hit, resulting in the closure of many schools and disruption of learning activities.

She said: “According to a report by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, GCPEA, 2022, Nigeria had the highest number of school students and teachers harmed, with over 1,000 students or educators abducted, killed, or otherwise harmed.”

She said in order to protect schools from these attacks, the Nigerian government endorsed the Safe School Declaration, SSD, in 2015, and the then “President Muhammadu Buhari signed the SSD Ratification Document in December 2019, indicating Nigeria’s commitment to upholding the principles of the SSD.

“To further direct the protection of schools from attacks, the National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools was approved in August 2021.

“The Minimum Standards for Safe Schools, the National Plan of Action, SSD Manual for Security Agencies and Human Rights Institutions, and the National Plan on Financing Safe Schools (2023-2026) have also been developed based on the commitment to implementing SSD in Nigeria.”

She informed that “UNICEF is co-leading both at the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Safe school and is saddled with the task of rolling out the implementation of Safe School across Nigeria.

“As part of UNICEF commitment to the Government of Nigeria, in the first phase, UNICEF will be supporting 14 States in Nigeria to fully domesticate the Safe School Policy in their respective States. As part of UNICEF support, some States have developed implementation plans and will need to scale up the domestication process.”

Dr. Nzeribe stated that UNICEF would collaborate the Benue State Minister of Education to ensure safe schools in the State stressing that the global organisation would provide technical support on Safe Schools and Climate Change Education.

The Permanent Secretary, Benue State Ministry of Education and Knowledge Management, Mr. Agbo Ochekpe who commended UNICEF for the interventions sued for collaboration between the committee set up the global organisation and the state’s Committee on Safe School.

The Executive Chairman Benue State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, Dr. Grace Adagba represented by the Board Secretary, Joseph Jande noted the importance of learning and teaching in Safe environments, stressing “that is why we are fully behind this initiative and we will give it all our support.”

The member of the Education Emergency Working Group, and Facilitator of the training, Mr. Caesar Akudike noted that the inauguration was a landmark event in the state and sued for the total commitment of all statekeholders to ensure safe schools in the state.

Also, the Executive Secreatary of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Sir. James Iorpuu represented by the Head of Emergency Education in the Agency, Dorcas Jen lauded UNICEF for the intervention which he said would no doubt “ensure that Benue schools are conducive and safe for teaching and learning.”

Inaugurating the committee, the Benue State Commissiner for Education and Knowledge Management, Dr. Frederick Ikyaan who charged the committee members to be forthright and committed to the assignment lauded UNICEF for its concern for the state saying, “today marks the beginning of a new era for Benue Education system as far as issues of safety are concerned.”

Dr. Ikyaan noted that UNICEF had provided the lead for the people to rise up to take steps to check insecuriry in the villages. He commended the global organisation for deploying its expertise, experience and knowledge in the area of safety in schools to ensure safety in the state’s school environment.

“It is our pleasure to partner with UNICEF and to look forward to the insight it had owing to its widespread research, experince on the field and engagements with similar situations which will provide a guide to us, so that we can follow,” he said.

The four days event which involved the training of stakeholders in the Safe School intervention culminated in the inauguration of the Steering Committee comprising representatives from
the State Ministry of Education which is the lead, SUBEB, State Agency for Mass Education, State Ministry of Budget and Planning, which is the co-lead, Ministry of Women Affairs, the Police, military, Civil Defense among others.