The Nigeria’s Safe School Initiative, an initiative to help protect hundreds of schools in Northeast, will continue in spite of Boko Haram attacks, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, said.
Brown told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Tuesday that the project was already yielding results in schools enrolment in northeast.
“We set up the Safe Schools Initiative. It was supported by Nigerian business, it was supported by the government and there was money from United Kingdom, America and other countries in support of this moving forward.
“And I went to Nigeria, I visited some of the areas in Nigeria where the Safe Schools were set up.
“And incidentally, because of the safe schools in Nigeria, other countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan have been looking at developing the same idea.
“That you can make your schools safer by better fortifications, by better communications, by sending out a message that you’re protecting it,” he said.
The former British Prime Minister, however, regretted the unfortunate consequences of the activities of the destructive Boko Haram insurgents on education, particularly, girls, in the northeast.
“This of course, was something we did three to four years ago. Since then, of course, the attacks by Boko Haram have discouraged large numbers of girls from going to school and the uncertainty.
“Of course, about the fate of the girls that were kidnapped from Borno State, from Chibok, is of course another factor that has caused fear and uncertainty among girls themselves.
“So we continue to push safe schools and we continue to try to ensure that with military support, schools can keep going in the face of Boko Haram pressure
“But undoubtedly, it is one of the factors that is causing there so to be a large number of girls not going to schools in the north of Nigeria,” Brown said.
NAN reports that the initiative was launched in 2014 at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, weeks after Chibok schoolgirls’ abductions.
Working with Brown, the project brought together Nigerian businesses, the government, donors and humanitarian agencies and raised 30 million U.S. dollars in funding.
In April 2016, two years after, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported the initiative had seen 213,985 internally displaced and vulnerable children enrolled in schools in camps and host communities.
The initiative has also trained more than 550 teachers, established 112 temporary learning spaces and created state co-ordination committees for education in the northern states most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, according to UNICEF.
Brown has continued to call on the international community to support the project, which he described as laudable and a novel idea to alleviate the huge impacts of Boko Haram violence on education in Nigeria.
“It is two years since the Nigerian girls were kidnapped in Chibok.
“We must also remember that the result of that was the Safe Schools Initiative started by businesses in Nigeria – a partnership between businesses, government and politicians.”
“All governments should now support a Declaration on Safe Schools, stating that attacks on schools, colleges and universities are crimes against humanity.
“And the international community should ensure the funds for guards, for cameras and simple gates to protect schools in conflict zones.”