United Nations Headquarters in New York Photo: AlwaysonthewayTravel

UN urges Nigeria to domesticate safe school policy ahead of reopening

*Safe School Declaration (SSD) offers countries opportunity to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflicts

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As a signatory to the convention, and in view of the recent moves by several world economies to reopen schools soon, the United Nations (UN) has called on states in Nigeria to fast-track the domestication of the policies on safe schools in line with the safe school declaration which the country has endorsed.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari ratified the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) during the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting March 20, 2019.

The SSD is an intergovernmental political commitment that provides countries with the opportunity to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflicts.

The SSD highlights the importance of the continuation of education during armed conflict and the implementation of concrete measures to deter the military use of schools.

Dr. Judith Giwa-Amu, Education Officer of UNICEF, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria Wednesday said that the Nigerian President had already given an approval for its domestication in states.

The UNICEF Education Officer, who is also the Nigerian Coordinator, Education in Emergencies Working Group, stated that the policy would ensure the protection of schools even during crisis.

Giwa-Amu stressed that “the SSD is also looking at a plan of action which has eight key actions that need to be undertaken.

“One of the major key is to ensure that even at the state level, we have a policy which is like a single reference document that spells out how schools should be protected from issues that constitute insecurity like natural hazards, violence, conflicts, everyday hazards and even school infrastructure.

“Sometimes, these constitute reasons for schools not to be safe and secured. So, that policy is a key instrument which came out from the ratification.”

The Declaration provides countries the opportunity to express political support for the protection of students, teachers, and schools during times of armed conflict.

The Coordinator of the UN Working Group commended Nigeria for being one of the first countries to have endorsed the declaration and shown commitment to ensuring it kept to its dictates.

Nigeria is one of the first 37 countries to endorse the declaration out of 104 countries that were currently signatories, Giwa-Amu stated.

According to her, “Nigeria is very, very high. You know that endorsement began on May 29, 2015 in Oslo and Nigeria was one of the first 37 countries to endorse and now we have 104 countries that have endorsed it.”

She noted that since the endorsement, Nigeria has shown commitment to ensuring schools are kept safe and protected for children to be able to receive education in them.

The Education Officer of UNICEF said: “That commitment means that even in terms of our military, there is an engagement with the Ministry that understand the children related issues.

“In countries like Nigeria where without the military in some parts of the North-East, nothing can happen in education, we are saying, we appreciate the military as our partners.”

She added: “In fact, they are actually our members, the Ministry of Defence is our member and in view of recognition of the role they play, one in maintaining the peace and integrity, some of them also provide teaching services.

“But we are saying that we want a situation that even with the military the schools do not become a target.

“Because with the military, there are sometimes it affects the civilian nature of the school and we want to be very confident that even after the military goes that school will not be looked at as a target.”

Kindly Share This Story