A Global Youth Ambassador from Nigeria says respect for education will lead to safer schools and peaceful societies.
In Nigeria, efforts to prevent attacks in and against schools have been inefficient and slow-moving. Sadly, Nigeria has seen several well-known incidents of attacks against schools and schoolchildren in the past few years.
In 2014, 200 Chibok school girls were abducted in Borno State. In 2017 and 2018 attacks were carried out in Lagos and Dapchi respectively. These incidents took school authorities, families and the community as a whole by surprise.
I believe the most sustainable solution to this problem is to create and nurture inclusive communities.
Residents and members of the community should feel a responsibility to look out for each other. Everyone should be responsible for one another in ensuring learners protection and safety.
Over the past 24 months, my advocacy for peace has taken different dimensions. I now focus on ensuring safety in community schools by working with stakeholders (parents, teachers, religious leaders, community leaders) and learners.
Please read some of the stories here. I try to use powerful words during advocacy visits to influence and inspire listeners to give one another a sense of belonging, build empathy and be responsible for one another.
As evidenced by previous attacks on schools, the perpetrators of these attacks, abductions or kidnappings have grown up in dispersed communities.
I believe that if we encourage and foster inclusiveness within communities we can curb attacks on schools. This is more of a psychological effect over time rather than the physical bracing of school - security walls, CCTV cameras and policing.
The latter should be a supplement to inclusiveness, a way to maintain and sustain the recent security upgrades in schools.
In addition, we should teach school children that attacks on fellow learners inhibits their learning experience and, if education stops, the community is at risk.
Learning this at a young age should instil a sense of community and a respect for the importance of education, thereby translating to safer schools and peaceful communities.
I encourage youth leaders to keep advocating for community inclusiveness by engaging with educational equity and safe schools in underserved communities.