By Felix Khanoba
Ahead of this year’s International Day for the Protection of Education, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has called for more robust safety measures in schools, saying security challenges in some parts of the country are preventing many children from attending school.
The International Day for the Protection of Education is commemorated every September 9 to draw attention to the importance of protecting education to ensure that a generation of children are saved.
UNICEF Nigeria’s Education Officer, Judith Giwa-Amu, in a chat with newsmen, said attacks on educational assets not only quench children’s zeal for education but often result in other psychosocial problems.
“Specifically, when education is attacked, educational assets, being human lives, children, teachers, non teaching personnel; when they are attacked, beyond the fact that their lives are truncated, their lives are affected in one way or the other.
“Those that are not physically attacked, they have psychosocial effects that can affect them and prevent them from continuing their education trajectory,” she said.
While calling for effective safety measures in schools, Giwa-Amu said such moves would tackle the problem of out-of-school-children in the country.
“When you have children who are out of school, it is due to the reason that they are afraid or their parents are afraid because of fear, their parents prefer them being alive than going to school, then the next generation becomes an endangered species, where children experience gap and they can never make it up to other children in other parts of the world.”
Speaking further, Giwa-Amu said UNICEF is partnering with Ministries of Education, Defence and Humanitarian Affairs to ensure safe schools.
“We realise that the Ministry of Defence has a great role to play , in countries of the world and in Nigeria ,we know that education will not happen in some areas in the North-east if the military is not physically present . However we see that with military forces, it changes the civilian nature of a school.
“We are looking for ways in which issues concerning school safety and security can be mainstream into their strategic document. For them to be able to handle the children ,the school in a manner that their security is ensured.”
Also in a message ahead of International Day for the Protection of Education, Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd), said any attack on education threatens the survival and future of the country.
“No nation can sleep in the event of continued attack on her education, likewise the Nigerian military shall not relent in our efforts to protect the integrity of Nigeria and ensure her continued existence and growth in safety and security.
“We shall continue to make efforts to ensure that education is not stopped even in the face of conflicts ,keeping in mind all necessary protocols and guidelines including the Safe Schools Declaration,” he said.