Head teachers from 114 institutions including 100 schools in northeastern Nigeria attended a UNESCO workshop on security in late November to help them handle the instability caused by extremists of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has been disrupting education in the area.
Hajiya Asabe Ali Kwambula, Principal of Chibok Government Secondary School in Borno State, from where about 300 young girls were abducted in April 2014, attended the workshop and stressed the importance of helping school administrators learn about security best practices to enhance the safety of schools across the country.
At the workshop, Ms Kwambula declared, “we are in the frontline of nation building and the mission of making education a yardstick for national development.”
Participants from primary, junior and secondary schools in the three Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were given 1,350 Safe School kits for their establishments. The kits were developed by an NGO, Exam Ethics Marshal International, in collaboration with Nigerian security authorities and contain, among other things, a printed safety manual, and instructional audiovisual material.
The workshop was financed by UNESCO as part of the Organization’s response to the abduction of the young girls from Chibok Secondary School earlier this year.
Concern for the security of school children in the northeast of Nigeria and for their right to receive an education has led to the establishment last May of a Child Protection and Education Working Group, of which UNESCO is a member.
A “safe school programme” was drawn up to provide teachers, parents and students with comprehensive information on safety skills in simple understandable language; empower school communities with appropriate guidelines, dos and don’ts, that will enhance their safety and their ability to assist security agencies at a time when safety has become a matter of general concern; provide schools with the information and skills required to conduct customized risk and threat audits of their establishments; and, finally, give schools templates for emergency response plans and the establishment of School Emergency Response Teams and Incident Command Systems.
The Government of Nigeria declared a State of Emergency in 2013, due to attacks by extremists of Boko Haram, whose name means Western Education is evil, which began in 2009, targeting teachers and students in northeast Nigeria.