Britain to give £1million to Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria

The UK government has announced it will commit £1million to the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria.

Prime Minister David Cameron declared his support for the plan today and also announced Britain has offered Nigeria further assistance in the search for the missing schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram four weeks ago.

The UK will provide surveillance aircraft, a team to embed with the Nigerian military and a team to work on analysis.

Mr Cameron said Britain should be prepared to provide more than military assistance.

During Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons he said: “We should help across a broad range of areas – not just counter-terrorism, surveillance and helping them find these people but also working with the global fund promoted by [Gordon Brown] in terms of protecting more schools.”

The Safe Schools Initiative was launched last week in Abuja by Mr Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, and a coalition of Nigerian business leaders working with the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School. The Nigerian business leaders committed $10million to a fund to promote schools as safe spaces – a sum matched by the Nigerian government.

The initiative, based on a report produced by A World At School, is a response to the growing number of attacks on education, including the kidnapping of more than 270 girls last month. With the UK’s contribution the fund total is now standing at more than $21million.

Starting with 500 pilot schools in northern states, the Safe Schools Initiative will build 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 initiative will provide school guards and police in partnership with Nigerian authorities, train staff as school safety officers and provide school counsellors. It will help schools create security plans and work with the government to develop a rapid response system. These response units will be able to quickly repair and rebuild school buildings and replace destroyed educational material.


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