CALLS FOR CONCERTED EFFORT TO MEET CHILDREN’S NEED OF LEARNING

By Vincess Okushi

In Nigeria, a recent evaluation has indicated that only 43% of 6,000 assessed schools were able to meet the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools.

This was disclosed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a statement to commemorate the 2024 International Day of Education in Nigeria.

UNICEF communication officer in Nigeria Safiya Akau said this finding particularly highlights challenges in ensuring the safety of school infrastructure and in mitigating risks such as violence, conflict, and natural hazards.

She said that there are recorded progress in providing access to education for 7.2 million children in humanitarian settings and called for more efforts to enhance school safety in the country.

Highlighting the theme ‘learning for lasting peace,’ Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, says it’s a wake-up call for all to play a crucial role in promoting a peaceful and stable education, adding that key stakeholders such as the federal, and state governments, development partners, civil society, communities, and educators must be determined to achieve a safe, secure learning environment.

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.

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.

She added that the recent attacks on schools, particularly in the North-East and North-West regions in 2021, have disrupted the learning of over 1.3 million children as a result of school closures while urging for a multi-sectoral approach to improve school safety as well as alternative learning platforms, such as the Nigerian Learning Passport.

Also noting the need for states to improve their Minimum Standards for Safe Schools with comprehensive planning, coordination, and adequate resource allocation, especially in states with higher risks.

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. Said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative

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