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UNICEF urges Nigerian government to prioritize safe schools implementation

Call Comes on 10th Anniversary of Chibok Girls Abduction

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has issued a poignant appeal to the Nigerian government, its partners, and the global community to prioritize the full implementation of the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools in all educational institutions across the country’s 36 states.

As Nigeria marks the solemn 10th anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok girls in the Northeast, UNICEF has underscored the urgent need for concerted action to address critical gaps in safe school infrastructure, disaster preparedness, conflict mitigation, and comprehensive strategies to combat violence against children.

In a press statement delivered by UNICEF Nigeria Communication Specialist Suzan Akila in Bauchi, the agency emphasized the imperative of bolstering law enforcement and security measures to safeguard educational institutions and communities from attacks and abductions.

The statement also urged the government to ensure the continuity of education during school closures through various learning channels such as radio and TV programs and digital platforms like the Nigeria Learning Passport.

According to UNICEF’s report, only 37 percent of schools across 10 states have early warning systems to identify threats like school attacks, highlighting the need for enhanced safety measures.

Reflecting on the Chibok girls’ abduction, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Cristian Munduate, remarked, “The kidnapping of the Chibok girls was a wake-up call to the severe risks our children face in their pursuit of education. Today, reflecting on this tragedy and other recent abductions, it is evident that our efforts to safeguard our children’s futures must be amplified.”

Munduate emphasized education as a fundamental right and a key pathway out of poverty, stressing that despite its significance, many Nigerian children are still unable to access it.

The agency’s analysis revealed significant disparities in the implementation of safe school standards across states, with Borno and Yobe states showing stronger commitment compared to Kaduna and Sokoto.

Furthermore, while schools perform relatively well in terms of training on safety and responding to children’s well-being, infrastructure and staff training on natural hazards remain inadequate.

UNICEF’s communication specialist highlighted the disturbing trend of violence affecting schools, including a rise in abductions, underscoring the urgent need for action.

In response to these challenges, UNICEF is collaborating with the government to establish safe learning environments, supporting the inauguration of state safe school steering committees and providing resources for safe schools implementation.

Munduate concluded by calling for collective action to ensure schools serve as sanctuaries for learning and growth, emphasizing the importance of strong political will and effective implementation of safe school standards.

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