Art and Culture

Military Committed to Safe Schools, Says Irabor

todayAugust 22, 2022

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*Stakeholders brainstorm on strategies, financing options 

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja 

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, Monday, expressed the resolve of the Nigerian military to ensure safe and secured learning environment across the country, as stakeholders converged to fashion out appropriate strategies and financing options for safe schools.

Speaking in Abuja at a national stakeholders’ engagement forum on financing safe schools with the theme, ” Financing Schools in  Nigeria: Issues and and Strategic Options”,  Irabor who was represented by the Director of Education, Defence Headquarters, Rear Admiral Chibuike Azike, observed that the activities of terrorists had culminated in the closure of schools in some parts of the country.

Describing the development as unacceptable, he expressed the commitment of the military to reverse the trend and provide an environment that is not only safe but secure for learning in schools nationwide.

The CDS said: “Nigeria has been facing major security challenges, including attacks on schools, leading to closure of schools in the affected states.  The armed forces are committed to securing Nigerian schools- both students and staff.”

The event which was organised by the Ministry of Finance,  Budget and National Planning attracted players in the armed forces, traditional rulers, education sector, conventional and non-conventional security operators, relevant commissioners on economic planning and budgeting as well as finance from all the states of the federation, among others.

In his keynote address, the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Nationalk Planning, Alh. Shehu Aliyu, stated that the federal would adequately fund the Safe Schools initiative.

“We are all aware of the blight of insecurity that has befallen our nation, of interest to us as stakeholders is the incessant attacks on our schools across the country that has disrupted the education sector. One of the resultant effect is the declaration of Nigeria as having the highest out-of-school children.

“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,” he said.

In her remarks, the head of the Safe Schools Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Halima Iliya Ville urged states, local governments and communities across the country to take ownership of the Safe Schools initiative, for it to achieve the desired outcomes.

Ville said: “You will all recall that the Safe Schools Declaration, SSD, Ratification was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 31st December 2019, signaling to the global community Nigeria’s commitment to if implementation in Nigeria. 

“And as we are all aware, the last count 114 UN member states have endorsed this Declaration thereby expressing political commitment to ensure the safety of civilians and general protection of education from attacks, this is encapsulated in the Safe Schools Declaration.

“Drawing from the commitment openly demonstrated by Mr. President, the Ministry of Finance, Budget & National Planning took major proactive steps fo chat a new course towards ensuring consistent financing to support education continuity in times of Conflict and also support survivors of attacks on education.”

Also, the Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Shehu Yamusa III called for the installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in all schools, as well as taking other necessary steps to make Nigerians schools safe for the pupils and staff.

 “Our students must have a safe environment to learn.  This is the type of environment that we want and we must work to ensure it.  Safety is a prime concern.  If students and teachers are in danger, then education is in danger.

“To have safe schools, I suggest that CCTV be provided in our schools.  There should be multi-sectoral approach- parents, PTAs, traditional rulers and the communities should be involved, especially in the area of intelligence gathering,” he said.

 In his goodwill message, the President,  National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Chief Yomi Otubela noted that safeguarding schools in the country had become more critical than ever.

He urged stakeholders to pay more attention to the emotional health of students and staff, while stressing the need for intelligence sharing and community-based response programme in case of emergency.

The event, which involved panel discussions by federal and state officials, representatives of non-governmental organisations, security agencies, royal fathers, players in the education sector and community leaders, among others, is expected to come up with effective, workable and  financing strategies to promote safe schools nationwide.

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