Following violent attacks and kidnapping of school children in various parts of the country, Federal Government has set aside N15 billion in the 2023 budget to secure school children.
Speaking at the training of safe school administrators in Abuja, yesterday, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said that to ensure the security of the few children who are still in school, urgent steps have to be taken so as not to swell the N20 million children already out of school.
The minister who spoke through Hajia Halima said that the ministry has made a commitment of N15 billion in 2023 and has authorized agencies to release funds to that effect.
“We have written to the agencies to give them the go-ahead to upload into the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) platform for the release of funding for effective implementation.
“We had a national plan that was launched in December last year by the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning in collaboration with the Ministry of Education for the protection of schools in the country. This is the component of the national plan. We intend to train them so that they can domesticate it in their various locations. That’s the state” the Minister said.
Declaring the programme open, the Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi noted that an estimated 75 per cent (according to the UNDP) of children are in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps without access to learning.
“To further worsen the situation, parents are scared to send their children to schools thereby contributing to the high rate of out – of school children in the country.
The National Safe School Plan being financed by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning rolled out strategies for implementation assigning the NSCDC the role of the lead agency. This decision was taken cognizance of the lead fole of the corps in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure inclusive of schools/educational institutions.
“It is worthy of mention that the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre (NSSRCC) is one of the critical components of the implementation strategy saddled with the responsibility of coordinating safety and security responses for schools and host communities in collaboration with all security agencies and other relevant stakeholders” she said..
Meanwhile, the centre was flagged off at the headquarters of the NSCDC on February, 13, 2023 by the Minister, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed. The flag-off signalled the commencement of implementation of the Safe School Programme.
“To underscore the importance attached to this programme, I immediately inaugurated a committee of experts to develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and implementation framework to guide the operation of the centre in line with global best practice.
“The committee had since completed its assignment and had officially presented the draft SOP on March 7, 2023. The draft SOP was further subjected to validation by relevant stakeholders through a validation workshop held on 23rd March 23, 2023” Ahmed noted.