The efforts of Federal Government and the Governments of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states to enhance safety and security of schools have received a boost from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations, UNESCO.
UNESCO has donated 1350 Safe School Kits for distribution to a total of 114 institutions and organizations in the three emergency states in the north east geo-political zone of Nigeria. The kits will be distributed at Tropicana Hotel, Abuja, on Friday 21st November, 2014 as climax of Safe School Capacity Building Training Workshop also sponsored by UNESCO.
13 Primary Schools, 10 Junior Secondary Schools, 10 Senior Secondary Schools, State Universal Education Board, State Emergency Management Agency, NUT, NUJ and NTI offices from each of the three states will receive the kits and participate in the training programme.
The Safe School Kit and Safe School Workshop are components of the Safe School Manual Project (SSMP) being implemented under a Public Private Partnership framework by Exam Ethics Marshals International, a non- governmental organization dedicated to promotion of best practices in education since 1996.
The SSMP which was initiated in 2011 is implemented with the support and collaboration of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Fire Service, National Emergency Management Agency, Association of General and Medical Practitioners of Nigeria. The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission supported the enabling summits and workshops for the production of the kits organized between 2011 and 2013.
The SSMP has four major objectives. The first is provide teachers, parents and students with comprehensive body of knowledge on safe school skills in a simple straight forward language and format that make for easy understanding, application and reference. The second objective is to empower school communities with specific safe school dos and don’ts that will enhance their safety and their ability to assist security agencies against the background that security is everybody’s business. Thirdly, the SSMP provides schools with enabling information and skills to conduct customized risk and threat assessment audits of their schools. Finally, the SSMP provides schools with templates for formulation of school emergency response plans, for establishment of School Emergency Response Teams and Incident Command Systems that are called into operation in periods of crises. The Safe School kit contains the Safe School Manual, Instructional Video DVD, Audio CD and a Hand Sanitizer.
The distribution of Safe School kits to schools across the country was flagged off at National Universities Commission Auditorium on August 1, 2014 by the Immediate Past Honourable Minister of State for Education, Barr Nyeson Wike, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the SSA to the President on Youth and Student Affairs Comrade Jude Imagwe. Security Agencies, the Media and other stakeholders also attended the flag off.
Since the flag off in August, a total of 10,350 (ten thousand three and fifty) kits have been distributed to proprietors, principals, teachers, students and other stakeholders across the country as climax of Zonal Safe School Training Workshops held in Gombe (28 October), Kano (30 October), Awka (11 November) and Calabar (13 November). A total 2,539 principal officers of schools have participated in the workshops since the flag off.
The SSMP has been adjudged by stakeholders as the most important and strategic contribution by a non-governmental organization to the effort to galvanize stakeholders to work together to build capacity for safe schools in Nigeria against the background that schools have become targets of choice for insurgency, kidnapping and other criminal activities.
All education stakeholders are being inspired to rise and join in the battle for Safe Schools because educational institutions have become deadly battle fronts in the war declared on Nigeria by insurgents. The battle for safe schools is a matter of life and death, a challenge of collective responsibility that calls for collective action. No stakeholder has the luxury of sitting back and watching because no person knows where the next attack will go off or who the next victim will be. This is why UNESCO stands highly commended for sponsoring the distribution of Safe School Kits to schools in emergency states.
Ike Onyechere, MFR
Founding Chairman, Exam Ethics Marshals International