By Omowumi Samuel
The Nigerian government says it will put in place measures to safeguard and protect schools and educational facilities across Nigeria over threats of attack.
The Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, disclosed this in Abuja, at a News briefing ahead of the commemoration of this year’s International Day to protect Education from attack.
According to the Minister, the attacks on schools are unwarranted and the abduction of students are unacceptable.
Sununu said that the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu would ensure that the safe school policy of the Federal Government is implemented in all its ramifications, in order to guarantee safety in schools across the country.
He further explained that the ministry is keyed to the renewed hope agenda of Mr President, and moving Nigeria on the right tracks.
Sununu also stated that the ministry in partnership with relevant stakeholders has already put in place, various strategies to deal with these attacks.
He added that the Federal Government had ratified the Safe School Declaration in December 2019 and developed a safe school policy in furtherance of upholding the right to education in emergencies.
On issues related to recent hike in school fees, the Minister stated that the Federal government would set up a formal negotiations team between the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and relevant stakeholders to oversee the hike in fees in schools across the country.
According to Sununu, hikes in school fees could be a core factor leading to attacks in schools, hence the need to look into the area to avert further attacks.
“So many areas that require finances are being attacked, but we must also look at the constitutional provisions.
“The constitutional provisions expressly state that free education is available, but with a caveat: ‘when the government can afford it, and that is why it also comes as voluntary contributions by all stakeholders.
“When we say safety in schools, it is a collective responsibility. So we are going to encourage formal negotiations.
“Where we cannot provide, it is to encourage PTA and relevant institutions so that we can agree to a term that is acceptable to all of us.
“Also, we will encourage a lot of partnerships as part of areas that can bring peace. Whether we agree or not, we must appreciate the role of PTAs in sustaining services in lots of our schools at both the local and federal levels.
“So, while we do that with scarce resources, at the ministry level, we try to see how we can block leakages and see how more funds can be available to schools to ensure that quality education is affordable and accessible to every Nigerian without decreasing the quality of education,” he said.
Our Correspondent reports that the International Day to Protect Education from Attack is observed yearly by the observance of the United Nations General Assembly, on September 9, but Nigeria will observe the celebration on Friday, September 8, 2023, with many activities lined up to commemorate the day.