Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), a renowned gender rights organization, has expressed deep concern over the continuous attacks on schools and learning facilities in Nigeria by terrorists, kidnappers, and bandits. The organization blames the government for its poor and inadequate response to these attacks.
In an effort to ensure the safety and compliance of children in schools nationwide, WARDC is recommending the full implementation of the Safe School Declaration. This declaration aims to combat the lack of safety and security in schools, and its adoption by Nigeria in 2018 was a crucial step forward.
During an inception meeting organized in collaboration with the United Nations Democracy Fund, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Founder/Executive Director of WARDC, highlighted the urgency of effective implementation of safe school policies in Nigeria. She noted that despite the signing of the Safe School Declaration, its full implementation is yet to be realized. Schools remain vulnerable to attacks from non-state armed groups, and the response from the government has been insufficient.
Akiyode-Afolabi identified three main challenges hindering the implementation of the Safe School Declaration. These include a lack of awareness, capacity, and network among stakeholders, the absence of a legal framework, and a lack of a roadmap for implementation. She emphasized that school security extends beyond bombings and abductions, as many schools lack basic security measures and are located in vulnerable areas.
The gender advocate stressed the need for effective partnerships between the government, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to implement the Safe School Declaration. Adequate funding is also crucial to ensure the security and protection of schools. She called for greater accountability and data collection to address the lack of information on school attacks, which hampers efforts to hold the government accountable.
The project undertaken by WARDC aims to raise awareness about the Safe School Declaration among key stakeholders, strengthen their capacity to demand the adoption of a legal framework and push for a state-level financing plan for its implementation. Protecting schools is essential for ensuring educational outcomes and fostering overall development.
WARDC’s call for urgent action to safeguard schools underscores the importance of prioritizing the safety and security of students, providing them with a conducive environment for learning and growth.