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Finance ministry, military, int’l community move to reopen schools

Ministry of Finance, the military and security agencies and members of the international community have agreed to work hard to tackle terrorism in order to reopen schools shut down in various parts of the country for pupils to resume schooling.

The move, captured under the Safe School Initiative (SSI), was a collective decision taken at a summit tagged; castle and safeguarding our schools, themed: “protecting our children and future, and organized by the Emergency Coordination Center in Abuja on Thursday.

It was attended by representatives of the United States and United Kingdom, other members of the international community, the Nigerian military, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, among others.

It was agreed that the Federal Government comes up with a new policy to safeguard and protect schools nationwide.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the document was billed for launch before end of third quarter of 2022, describing it as a renewed strategy that aims at securing Nigerian schools for safe guaranteed learning environment.

According to her, since the abduction of female students of Borno State Government Girls Secondary Chibok in 2014 by a group of Islamic terrorists, federal government has evolved measures aimed at protecting schools in the country.

She said the National Plan will be implemented in phases starting with highest 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”.

“We at the Federal Ministry of Finance and National Planning established a committee with members drawn from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including Federal Ministry of Education, the Military and other Security Agencies. The Committee has been working to collate inputs from the relevant MDAs and to develop a National Plan for Financing Safe Schools”.

“The plan will incorporate state level plans, as well as Federal Government sectoral plans, with an emphasis on ensuring adequate budgetary allocation in order to create a safe learning environment for teaching, learning, and restoring confidence in the education system”, she said

The Minister added that consultations were currently underway with states, local governments and other critical agencies of government, and committee she said was also working to identify the most transparent, effective and accountable ways of mobilizing and deploying resources.

“The goal is to develop a robust collaborative costed 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 added

The Minister reaffirmed government’s priority in securing. the safety of school children, their teachers, and of host communities.

“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”, she said.

Earlier in his remarks, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, efforts were being deepened to empower teachers and provide a conducive learning environment for students all in a bid to curb the vices of insecurity.

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