Ebonyi State Government of Nigeria is boosting the Safe School Initiative with distribution of 4,000 copies of Safe School Manuals to schools and training of 600 Teachers and Administrators as Safe School Ambassadors and First Responders. This is the first in a series of interventions under the Ebonyi Safe School Empowerment Project (SASEP) designed to build capacity of school operators and stakeholders to contribute to protection of their schools against the background that safe school is everybody’s business.
SASEP, which was launched as a Public Private Partnership initiative in Abuja in 2014, is being facilitated by Safe School Academy International in partnership with Exam Ethics Marshals International.
Ebonyi State Governor, His Excellency, Engr David Nweze Umahi will be formally inaugurated as the first Safe School Friend and Partner Governor in the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria on 26th October, 2015 in Abakiliki as highpoint of the launching of Ebonyi State SASEP.
SASEP supports Government efforts to enhance safety and security of schools against the background that schools have become targets of choice for terrorists, insurgents, kidnappers, cultists and other criminals with tragic consequences. On Monday, October 4, the Nigeria Union of Teachers announced that 600 teachers have been killed by terrorists in the northern states of Nigeria while 19,000 teachers are among the internally displaced. This is besides the large number of students that have been killed and displaced. This underlines the need for collective effort.
In view of the fact that security is everybody’s business and the fact that no country, including Nigeria, has enough security personnel to provide blanket protection to all primary, secondary and tertiary institutions on 24/7 basis, it became necessary to train and empower school teachers, administrators and other stakeholders with enabling body of knowledge to contribute and participate in protection of their school environment.
The training provides Ebonyi State School Teachers and Administrators with knowledge and skills to: conduct risk and threat assessment of their schools; identify and plug safety and security loopholes; formulate and implement safe school policies and programmes; and conduct safety drills and exercises. At the end of the training, they are enlisted as Safe School Ambassadors with capability, authority and certification to function as Safe School Coaches, Inspectors and Instructors. They also serve as members of School First Responder Task Teams on permanent stand by and in readiness to take action in emergency situations before arrival of security and emergency management professionals. They become automatic members of International Safe School Ambassadors Network and receive regular update of global best practices on Safe Schools from all over the world.
The training of Safe School Ambassadors is based on the Safe School Manual researched and developed by Exam Ethics Marshals International over a period of five years (2010-2014) with the support and facilitation of: Nigeria Police Force; Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps; Federal Fire Service; National Emergency Management Agency; Police Service Commission; Federal Ministry of Police Affairs; and Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria.
After successful review of the Manual and Safe School Empowerment Project, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) endorsed the initiative and sponsored the distribution of 1,350 Manuals and training of 345 Principals and Teachers from Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States in November 2014. Some corporate organizations including National Pension Commission and Premium Pensions Limited have also sponsored the distribution of the Manuals and the training and deployment of Ambassadors to schools across the country.
Meanwhile education stakeholders in Ebonyi State, including parents and teachers are unanimous in their commendation of Governor Umahi for his pro-active intervention policy of mobilizing all stakeholders to contribute to protection of Ebonyi Schools and making them safe and secure for teaching and learning.
Major General Mathias Efeobahkan (rtd) is the Lead Training Consultant for Safe School Ambassadors Training and the Chairman of Strategy and Logistics Committee of the Safe School Empowerment Project.
The mission of Safe School Empowerment Project will be accomplished only when all education stakeholders in all schools in Africa are successfully mobilized to work together to make their school environments safe and secure for teaching and learning for teachers, staff, students and pupils.