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UNICEF charts path to safe school in Nigeria

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has listed ways of checkmating incessant attacks on school children in Nigeria. The Agency’s Education Specialist, Mrs. Judith Giwa said in response to the needs of children from the North-East, heavily impacted by insurgency, the “Safe School Initiative” was launched with three models identified as ‘quick win’ interventions implemented in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States between 2014 and 2016.

She said the initiative increased access to basic education through enrolment of 223,000 children, improved capacity for quality education delivery and psychosocial support for 660 teachers and volunteers. 

Giwa however identified the challenges of the initiative as insecurity, gross inadequacy in number of teachers, and a lack of financial incentives to support volunteers not officially captured in the government payroll affected teacher availability.

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“The inability of these volunteers to personally fund their logistics and travel to the IDP camps daily meant that education supply led to teacher absenteeism, which was closely followed by learner absenteeism. In the absence of school feeding programmes, learner’s classroom participation was characterised by the lack of concentration in the education process due to hunger. The expansion of the SSI to cover host community children revealed some aspects of stigmatisation against displaced children. Alternative modes of accelerated learning and vocational education for many children who have never been to school before this time were lacking.”

Giwa added that the current programme to ensure safety is ‘Safe Schools Declaration’ (SSD), a global commitment endorsed by Nigeria among 106 countries in 2015, to safeguard learners, teachers/education personnel and assets. 

“This policy gives legal direction to key measures to be taken at state, community and school levels towards preparedness, prevention, mitigation and response to five key hazards, including violence, conflict, natural, man-made and everyday hazards that affect the wellbeing of schoolchildren, teachers and school community to ensure safety and security of schools in Nigeria.

UNICEF said efforts to protect education from attack; implementation of key actionable measures for the establishment of functional early warning community-level systems should be in place at each school.

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Judith GiwaUNICEF
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