Although primary school education is compulsory and officially free in Nigeria, there are over 10.5 million out of school children in Nigeria, who are aged 5 -14 years. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) had disclosed that a total of 11, 536 schools have been closed since December 2020 due to abductions and security issues in Northern Nigeria. It also stated that since December 2020, 1,436 school children and 17 teachers have been abducted from schools, and 16 school children lost their lives.
While gender (depending on geo-political region), socio-cultural norms and practices, poverty and region of residence are important factors of influence for the rising number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, it is not unconnected with the level of insecurity around schools and communities within Nigeria. Hence, as participants opined, Education security cannot be disassociated from the general security of communities where schools are situated.
Participants also questioned the implementation of the Safe Schools Initiative, and the willingness of governments across the board to invest rightly in Education, considering the funding allocated for Education amidst the huge number of schools closed due to insecurity.
Even with the global pull and the heavy ceremonies and global pull that came with the conceptualization and launching of the Safe Schools Initiative, there are a lot of questions about the impact of the program as evidence of the success of the initiative remains difficult to find. Experts suggested a re-evaluation and revamp of the initiative following the development of the National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools with its Implementing Guidelines, in August of 2021.
Despite being a signatory to the global Safe Schools Declaration, an inter-governmental political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from the worst effects of armed conflict; a framework for collaboration and exchange, and a commitment to restoring access to safe education; participants believe that the Nigeria government across every strata, has a long way to go with regards to the safety of schools within the country, as the impacts of its initiatives and intervention remain unseen.
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