FG’s response to schools’ security poor despite attacks, WARDC laments
*Asks govt to implement safe school declaration
Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) has lamented that schools and learning facilities across the country still suffer from pervasive insecurity due absence of adequate responses by the governments.
The organisation, therefore, called on the government to see to the implementation of the Safe School Declaration (SSD) in order to ensure full compliance and safety of children in schools across the country.
Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, made the call yesterday at an inception meeting with stakeholders on the effective implementation of safe schools policies in Nigeria organised by WARDC in collaboration with the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).
Nigeria had adopted the Safe School Declaration in 2018 to combat the problem of lack of safety and security in schools.
Recall also that the government, in the closing days of 2022, signed and launched a N144.8 billion Safe Schools Financing Plan, which it said, would be implemented between 2023 and 2026.
According to the government, the plan will complement the National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools, NPSSVFS, with its implementing guidelines, adopted in 2021.
Noting that the safe school declaration was yet to be fully implemented in the country, Akiyode-Afolabi observed that
schools have been severely under attacks from non-state armed groups and are also susceptible to bulleting by the armed forces while responding to security issues.
According to her, the problem appears intractable due to the lack of adequate responses by the governments.
“This is despite the country’s signing of the Safe School Declaration, a legally binding law domesticating the SSD that will promote effective implementation, enforcement and accountability”, she stated.
She identified three problems hindering full implementation of Safe Schools Declaration in Nigeria.
These, according to her, included lack of awareness, capacity and network of the stakeholders and the public on the SSD, absence of legal framework to realize the SSD and lack of costed plan (roadmap) to implement the SSD.
She said, “School Security is beyond bombing and abduction of school children, some schools are built close to filing stations, some in remote areas difficult to access, while in some their only form of security can be best described as a gateman as he can do little or noting at the time of crisis.
“Schools and learning facilities across the country have been severely under attacks from non-state armed groups and are also susceptible to bulleting by the armed forces while responding to security issues.
“The problem appears intractable due to the lack of adequate responses by the governments, despite the country’s signing of the Safe School Declaration, a legally binding law domesticating the SSD that will promote effective implementation, enforcement and accountability.
“Over the years public knowledge of the SSD is still near zero.The SSD is yet to be fully implemented, and schools do not comply with the standard protocols in line with the SSD.
Afolabi said lack of an effective and coordinated partnership between the government, CSOs, and other relevant stakeholders on implementing the SSD programs has been limited, with low budgetary allocations, leading to low demand for accountability from the government, adding that “there is no way we can have a secured school, if it is not appropriately financed,”.
The Federal Lead, Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria Education (PLANE) Abiola Sanusi, expressed disappointments on the lack of data on attacks in schools, saying that this poses a great difficulty for accountability.
Sanusi said, “some schools in Ondo were attacked recently and most people are not aware, so also some students in Niger states have been away from school and no one is asking questions.
” We need to begin to hold government accountable, as the insecurity has made many refuse to send their children to schools, we need to safeguard our schools as they are catalyst to drive educational outcome and development.
Senior Programmes/Grant Officer WARDC, Jennifer Nwokedike, said the project embarked on by the organisation would raise awareness about the SSD among key stakeholders in order to raise their voices and actions toward the implementation of the SSD.
Nwokedike noted that the project will also enhance stakeholder capacity to demand for the adoption of a legal framework to promote the implementation of the SSD, as well as push the government to adopt a state-level costed /financing implementation plan of the SSD.
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