An initiative to help protect hundreds of schools in Nigeria has been launched today in response to the growing number of attacks on the right to education in the country.
The Safe Schools Initiative will start by reaching more than 500 schools in the Northern states of Nigeria through a $10 million fund pledged by a coalition of Nigerian business leaders, working with the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School.
Announcement of the initiative at the World Economic Forum in Abuja comes amid a time of crisis in Nigeria as more than 200 girls were abducted from a boarding school in Borno State three weeks ago.
The Safe Schools Initiative will seek to strengthen the growing movement to #BringBackOurGirls and ensure all schools in Nigeria are safe from attacks in the future.
At the launch of the initiative, Gordon Brown recognized the need to take action following the repeated attacks against education in Nigeria.
He said: “The first step in response to this crisis has been to show our support. The next phase is now to take practical measures to make schools safer
“We cannot stand by and see schools shut down, girls cut off from their education and parents in fear for their daughters’ lives".
The Safe Schools Initiative will start by building community security groups to promote safe zones for education, consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves. In the longer term, the programme will focus on bolstering the safety of schools - providing school guards and police in partnership with Nigerian authorities, training staff as school safety officers, and providing counsellors to schools at risk of attack.
Present at the launch today, Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of ThisDay Media Group and one of the prominent business leaders to support the Safe Schools Initiative, highlighted that the Nigerian business community supports the programme and is ready to work closely with local communities, youth, government and the media to ensure the safety of schools.
Gordon Brown is set to meet with President Jonathan this week to discuss a plan from the international community to partner with Nigeria for the largest school expansion in the country’s history.
A petition with more than 400,000 signatures will be delivered to the president, showing international support for creating safe schools in Nigeria so that every girl and boy is able to go to school and learn.
As the Safe Schools Initiative grows, business leaders will seek matching investments from the government and the Global Business Coalition for Education will solicit more corporate partners to support the expansion of safe schools in Nigeria and protect the right of children to go to school and learn.