World Bank Country Director for Nigeria Shubham Chaudhuri has cautioned the Federal Government on its pitfall on the nation’s human capital development if it fails to guarantee safe learning environment for children.
Chaudhuri, gave the caution Thursday in Abuja during a high level summit for castle – safeguarding our schools: protecting our children and our future.
The World Bank Country representative warned that except the government adopts an all inclusive approach to protecting the children, many would be denied their right to education.
He noted that the closure of schools in the FCT due to threats of abduction will further increase the number of out of school children, which currently stands at over 18 million.
He said: “This is the time when children who are trying to go to school every day are unable either because they get kidnapped or it’s unsafe, or as is the case now in FCT, which schools have been closed.
“This does not demonstrate an ability to ensure the rights of all children to the right to education. And I’m very pleased to see the security forces here presence in numbers as indeed they were in April.
“Your commitment to ensure that children go to school is renowned. How can we affect change? Not here in Abuja, but in the villages, whether it in some follow up, whether it’s local, whether it’s oil, or in delta, so that children can feel free and safe to be able to go to school,” Chaudhuri said.
He further urged all stakeholders to show commitment to ensuring that schools are safe for children.
According to him, policy makers need to show the same level of commitment like the children in ensuring safe school across Nigeria.
“No child will go to school if they do not benefit from it. No parent will risk sending their children to school if they don’t see a return. And what is incredible about Nigeria is that children still want to go to school. Parents still demand that their children go to school. Wherever you go in Nigeria, you got to finish even at a level dilapidated school or even at times, a shelter where there’s a bit of plastic on the roof. You see 10 of hundreds of girls and boys; they’re in their uniforms wanting to participate. It’s that commitment that we have to fulfill. And it’s where I think we’ve all failed those children. They’ve demonstrated our commitment they just demonstrate that willingness, but where we as policy and decision makers need to ensure that contract between government and communities is fulfilled.
“And I hope at the end of today, or by the end of today, we’re able to forge that to go forward collectively to ensure that at least next academic year, which is only a month or six weeks away, to go to school safely, knowing that they will receive the quality of education and knowing that their rights will be fulfilled,” he said.
In her speech, Minister of Finace, Budget and National Planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed admitted that rising security challenges have led to closure of schools. She however assured of the government’s commitment to safety and security of schools across Nigeria.
“Over the past several years Nigeria has faced major security challenges, including attacks on schools and other learning places. This has led to the closure of schools in impacted and most at risk communities.
“The security and safety of our children, their teachers, and of
host communities continues to be a critical priority for the Government of Nigeria,” she said.
The Minister said in keeping with its responsibility to create a
safer and more secure teaching, learning and living environment for her children has taken several steps in this direction. In a bid to turn the
situation around, Mrs Ahmed said the federal government was currently in talks with States, local governments and other critical
agencies of government in order to identify the most transparent,
effective and accountable ways of mobilizing and deploying resources.
According to her, the goal is to develop a robust collaborative cost that prioritizes plan which would adopt the whole society approach to safe schools.
“The National Plan will be implemented in phases starting with Most at Risk States, Local Governments and Schools Host Communities. This National Plan is expected to be launched before the end of the 3rd quarter of 2022, and will clearly outline how Nigeria intends to protect her schools and other learning places, so that our children can once again return to learning in a safer and more secured environment,” she said.