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Nigeria Safe Schools scheme shrouded in uncertainty

27 April 2015, 17:35

Abuja - As the tenure of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration comes to an end, uncertainty surrounds the future of the Safe Schools initiative.

The exercise is the brainchild of former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, now a United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education.

Also read: Contempt charge: Okonjo-Iweala knows fate June 3

A year into its inception, its impact has not been felt.

It was officially launched during the World Economic Forum Africa in 2014 Abuja in response to the abduction of more than 200 school girls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.

Efforts to rescue the minors from the clutches of Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group, have hit a snag.

Brown, in collaboration with some of Nigeria’s wealthiest business leaders had pledged $10 million to ensure the safety of millions of local children, starting with a pilot programme catering for 500 schools as in some northern states.

The fund was expected to help ensure the children in schools in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, the worst affected by the Boko Harama terror, attained education in a safe environment.

Since then, little has been heard of the initiative.

Politicians haggling over the implementation of the scheme have taken centre stage in recent weeks.

Recently, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, supported by Asabe Kwambura, Principal of Government Secondary School in Chibok as well as the Director-General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Sani Sidi with the parents of the abducted girls, lay the foundation for the rebuilding of the school.

However, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South at the upper
chamber of the National Assembly, argued the government should concentrate on rescuing the missing girls than rebuilding the school.

“It is unfortunate that all the promises made by the federal government of the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan and the security agencies to rescue the innocent missing girls failed to yield positive result, allowing the parents and guardians to be traumatized,” said Ndume.

“How can you say you want to rebuild a school while those who were supposed to be the beneficiaries are still in captivity of insurgents? The school belongs to the state government and not the federal government.”

He added, “The security of the lives of our daughters is the responsibility of the federal government, so let the federal government bring back the girls, as this is what our people want.”

Nonetheless, there is some slight hope.

Public commentators believe that the latest move by the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to formally adopt 100 orphaned children between the ages of 5 to 6 years as a result of the insurgency in the North Eastern states could be embedded into the Safe Schools initiative by the incoming government of Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress.

Kwankwaso disclosed that the State Government would take full responsibility of the children’s feeding, education, healthcare and general upbringing in a special boarding primary school in Kano.

The Borno State Government has also established a primary school at the  internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in the state capital, Maiduguri.

According to the Chairman of Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Alhaji Grema Terab, the schools were established to keep the children on the camps busy and abreast of their studies pending the time they would return to their towns.

He also revealed that plans are underway to get secondary schools on the camps so that the students who were forced to flee their towns will not lose educationally.

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) donated the books and other instructional material.

“The incoming government of All Progressive Congress (APC) must move in to organised all theses programmes in line with the Safe Schools Initiative,” said an analyst.

The Buhari administration assumes power on May 29 after the former military leader won elections held on March 28/29.

- CAJ News


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