By Funmilayo Adeyemi
The Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, has called for collective commitment to protect education from further attacks.
This is as Nigeria commemorates the international day to protect education from attacks.
Sununu was speaking in Abuja on Saturday at an event to celebrate the day with students of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The 2023 theme of the celebration is tagged:”Making schools Safe through the implementation of the Safe School policy.”
He said that by working together, the education sector could be safeguarded thereby ensuring that every learner enjoys right to education in safe and secured environment.
According to him, the theme is essential in order to sensitise relevant education stakeholders that there is guidance for implementation.
He said the commemoration serves as a reminder of the critical need to raise awareness about attacks on learners, teachers and educational institutions, particularly in regions affected by crisis and violence.
He added that there is also the need to safeguard the right to education, which often faces severe disruptions due to ongoing violence and threats.
“The theme serves as a powerful reminder of the pressing need to use the National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools (NPSSVFS) and the National Minimum Standards for Safe Schools for its’ operationalisation.
” This is to ensure consistent safety standards across educational institutions for the implementation process.
“The adherence to the policy guidance during implementation will ensure emergency preparedness in case of imminent attacks on learners, educators, and educational institutions nationwide and reduce casualties,” he said.
He said the ministry would leverage on the global commemoration to raise awareness on the existence of the aforementioned implementation documents to ensure effective ways of preventing further attacks and sustain safe and secured learning environments.
He further explained that attacks on education had far-reaching consequences globally on learners’ school attendance, teachers’ stability, the quality of education, economic development and social progress.
He said attacks create an environment of fear, resulting in increased school drop-out rates, diminished enrollment and compromised educational quality.
“We are all aware that the security of students, teachers, and educational infrastructure is paramount for sustainable development in all climes.
“Within Nigeria, we cannot ignore the grave challenges posed to education in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states due to insurgency.
“The heartbreaking attack on FGC, Buni-Yadi, Yobe State, the tragic massacre of 29 students on February 24, 2014, abductions of 276 Chibok girls in April 2014 and the kidnapping of 110 girls from 655, Dapchi in 2018 stand out as poignant examples of the ongoing crisis.
“It is imperative to note that attacks on education have far-reaching implications apart from disrupting the lives of students. It also affects the future development of our nation detrimentally,”he added.
Sununu said the Federal Government government had put in place initiatives for safe learning environments and protection of learners in furtherance of protecting education from attacks and to ensure its continuity even in the face of adversity.
He listed the initiatives to include: the endorsement of Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) and launching of the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI).
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo, emphasised the urgency and importance of safeguarding educational institutions while ensuring that they remain sanctuaries of knowledge and growth for the nation’s future generations.
Adejo was represented by the Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the ministry, Abubakar Isah.
He said it is therefore important to focus on the kinetic and non-kinetic means of tackling insecurity in the institutions as as well on psychological safety, especially at the lower levels.
“The importance of such a day is made more significant by the need to address the growing incidences of both physical and the unspoken of psychological and/or emotional attack on education.
“We see the physical attacks having negative impacts on our infrastructure and at other times regrettably loss of lives.
“What we often loose sight of and because it is not easily visible is the psychological and emotional attacks on education.
“This is the most dangerous because it attacks the minds, especially of our young ones,” he said.
He added that the country’s commitment to the safe school policy extends beyond safeguarding physical structures but also encompasses a commitment to promoting a culture of peace and dialogue.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria has had its own share of insecurity, resulting to the abduction of school children, especially in the northern part of the country.
Its impact can be seen in the rate of poverty in the country, increase in the number of internally displaced persons as well as increase in the rate of out-of-school children. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede