The United Nations, in Nigeria says that safeguarding education from attack is urgently needed to restore confidence in schools as places of protection for children and teachers.
This, the UN says is particularly pressing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to school closures, affecting 46 million primary and secondary learners across Nigeria.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon made this known in a statement to commemorate the maiden International Day to Protect Education from Attack.
“As State Governments plan to reopen schools after prolonged closures, he said, building a resilient education system to withstand future shocks should be included in pandemic response plans.
Kallon noted that prioritising safety in schools for educators and learners is an indication of the governments commitment to protecting investments in the education sector.
Adding that it is a validation of Nigeria’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration.
“While the world marks the first-ever International Day to Protect Education from Attack under the theme “Protect Education, Save a Generation”, more than three million children in the conflict-affected North-Eastern Nigeria are in need of education-in-emergency support.
“Education is essential to helping crisis-affected communities in the north-east rebuild and recover.
“Attacks on schools are a direct attack on future generations and I call on all parties to the conflict to take all necessary measures to protect education and give learners a chance to build a brighter future,” Kallon said.
According to UN Chief, António Guterres, as the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact.
“We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future,” he said.
The UN vehemently condemned all attacks on education, including abductions of school children, school-related gender-based violence, herders-farmers clashes, and repurposing of schools for use as isolation centres, IDP camps, markets or for military purposes.
If left unchecked, the UN said incessant attacks on schools and learners could reverse the gains on education investments made by the government of Nigeria, the UN and other multilateral, bilateral, and private sector partners over years.
The statement further quoted the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore to have said that attacks on schools are a violation of humanity and basic decency.
“We must not allow these senseless attacks to destroy the hopes and dreams of a generation of children.”
The UN said that the governments response to the pandemic is an opportunity to build a resilient education system, invest in human capital and strengthen communities who act as first responders in the event of attacks on schools.
According to the UN, to deliver for children in Nigeria, education must remain on top of the public agenda with governments boosting efforts to translate its vision for education into real change for children.