Tue. Feb 20th, 2024

On this International Day of Education 2024, UNICEF acknowledges the significant progress made in providing access to education for 7.2 million children in humanitarian settings across Nigeria, thanks to collaborative efforts with the government, donors and partners. However, alongside this recognition, the children’s agency highlights the need for concerted efforts to enhance school safety in Nigeria.

A recent evaluation indicates that, on average, only 43% of the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools are being met in about 6,000 assessed schools. This finding particularly highlights challenges in ensuring the safety of school infrastructure and in mitigating risks such as violence, conflict, and natural hazards.

Ms. Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, notes, “While Nigeria has shown a commitment to creating safe school environments through endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and developing the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools, there is room for further progress. On this important day, we are reminded of the collective responsibility we share in safeguarding the educational environment for every child.”

The theme of the 2024 International Day of Education, ‘learning for lasting peace,’ reminds us of all of the crucial role that education plays in promoting peace and stability. It serves as a reminder to all stakeholders – including federal and state governments, development partners, civil society, communities, and educators – of the importance of providing safe, secure learning environments.

“Education is a key driver of gender equality, economic growth, and social development, sadly it remains inaccessible to many Nigerian children. Their educational journey is often disrupted by attacks on communities and schools, including the abduction of students. These challenges are particularly acute for adolescent girls, potentially stalling the progress made in girls’ education in Nigeria.” Munduate added.

Recent attacks on schools, particularly in the North-East and North-West regions in 2021, have led to learning disruptions for over 1.3 million children, necessitating precautionary school closures. This highlights the urgency of addressing school safety comprehensively.

UNICEF calls for a multi-sectoral approach to improve school safety, informed by the performance of states on the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools. This approach should include comprehensive planning, coordination, and adequate resource allocation, especially in states with higher risks.

To complement these efforts, UNICEF emphasizes the importance of alternative learning platforms, such as the Nigerian Learning Passport. This digital platform, with over 750,000 users, offers curriculum-aligned materials and is crucial for ensuring continuity of education, especially during school closures.

UNICEF remains committed to working with the Nigerian government, donors and all partners to ensure that every child has access to a safe, inclusive, and quality education.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Nigeria.

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