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Issues of security, safety resonate as stakeholders deliberate on SSD

By Iyabo Lawal
10 February 2022   |   2:48 am
Issues of security and safety took the centre stage as stakeholders met in Lagos to discuss the safety of school children and how to prevent attacks on them.

Issues of security and safety took the centre stage as stakeholders met in Lagos to discuss the safety of school children and how to prevent attacks on them.

At the one-day sensitisation programme on Safe School Declaration (SSD) held at Agidingbi Senior Grammar School, Ikeja, participants noted that insecurity is becoming alarming and there is an urgent need to arm children and educators with necessary safety skills.

The programme organised by a non-governmental organisation, Talent Plus Resources International and Rosebud Safezone Consult Limited and sponsored by Development Research Project Centre (DRPC) was themed: ‘School Safety, Security and Resilience Systems Building’.

Executive Director, TalentPlus Resources International, Aderonke Kimemenihia-Eseka, noted that in recent years, Nigeria has continued to experience various forms of attacks on schools and educational facilities.

She said the attacks have led to killing, maiming and abduction of learners, teachers, and educators, while in Lagos, cases of bullying, cultism, drugs and kidnapping have been recurring.

To address the problem, Nigeria, between October 25 and 27, 2021 hosted the 4th International Conference for Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) with the theme ‘”Ensuring safe education for all: from commitment to practice.”

As part of the post-conference activities, DRPC, with funding from Ford Foundation and technical support from the Education in Emergencies Working Group Nigeria (EiEWGN) trained Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from across Nigeria to support the implementation of the SSD in their different states and transfer demonstrable SSD knowledge, skills and practice to state actors, school managers, school owners, CSOs, SBMCs and other stakeholders at the community level.

She stated that about 12 states in Nigeria are being supported to see how recommendations from the Abuja workshop can be implemented in schools.

Kimemenihia-Eseka pointed out that the sensitisation meeting was to inform participants about SSD, share knowledge, experience and seek stakeholders’ support for safe schools, mitigate risk for safe learning and have in place resilient systems.

She solicited the support of all stakeholders, including government, school owners, civil society groups and educators to ensure a safe, secure and violence-free education environment, where students can learn without fear of any violence or abuse.

“We, therefore, must be ready and prepared to stop violence in our schools. Prevalent in our region are bullying, cultism, drugs, yahoo and hoodlums taking over schools among others. We must not allow insecurity, violence and abuse to destroy the future of education and the future of Nigeria.

“Therefore, all stakeholders should be committed to national policy on safety, security and violence so that learners will be protected from all forms of hazards, violence and exploitation, while they pursue their education,” Kimemenihia-Eseka said.

According to her, schools should be a safe haven and learner-friendly environment, and all stakeholders, including the private sector, should understand minimum standards for safe schools for effective monitoring.

Some of the participants, in their contributions, said with recent happenings in the country, it is imperative for everyone to be safety conscious.

One of the students at the conference, Haruna Sumayyah, an SS2 student of Agidingbi Senior Grammar School, identified bullying, cultism and gangsterism among neighbouring schools as some of the issues confronting the school.

“It looks mild, but punching someone in the face or using a pen to stab a student is worrisome and may get out of hand, if not urgently addressed. Inter-school clashes between neighbouring schools are also becoming worrisome,” Sumayyah declared.