Education

FG committed to protection of children, schools – Osinbajo

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FG committed to protection of children, schools – Osinbajo

Angela Atabo

The federal government has reiterated its commitment to protecting children in schools across the country.

Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo made the pledge during an intensive three-day workshop on advocacy, girls’ education and school safety, hosted by the Malala Fund, Monday in Abuja.

Osinbajo, represented by Dr Fatima Waziri, Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), renewed the government’s commitment to the development of education in Nigeria.

Osinbajo said this is the reason why education has one of the highest allocations in the national budget.

He said the government was working hard to close the gender gap created by COVID-19 that made it difficult for girls to go to school.

“The government is there to support girls in any way it can.

“COVID-19 has reinforced many gaps in education and made it difficult for girls, in particular, to access health care and education.

“The declining incomes of most families around the world mean that families who make choices will almost make choices that disadvantage the girl.

“While schools have remained closed during the pandemic, student education has suffered as girls are more likely to drop out of school and not return, but the government has recognized that the best interests of a child is essential, ”he said.

The Vice President noted that the need for the government to improve access to education, especially for girls, was recently demonstrated by the ratification of the Safe Schools Declaration.

He said the government would put in place a national policy to guide its implementation to protect children from attacks in schools.

Osinbajo said Nigeria will continue to enact laws and policies to ensure children are protected and have access to education.

Also speaking at the event, a girls’ coalition brought together by Malala Fund and Partners called on the federal government and its parastatals, security agencies and states to take the necessary steps to ensure adequate protection for girls in school.

Miss Ugbedeojo Agamah, Oprite International Christian School, Kurudu, Abuja, and spokesperson for the group, said there was a need for the government and other stakeholders to step up their efforts to improve the plight of girls in Nigeria.

According to Agamah, the girls demanded that relevant staff be hired to effectively manage times of conflict in a way that allows schools to remain unaffected.

“We therefore call on the federal government, the Ministry of Education, Status of Women, Defense, security agencies and NAPTIP to take the necessary measures to intensify all security efforts.

“They should make sure that policymakers take immediate action to provide alternatives for students to continue learning.

“Investing in making school premises safer so that girls stay safe in school and keep them safe when they go to school, school and when they come back from school.

“We resolve to join forces to ensure safer schools for girls by 2030.”

Agamah said the girls believe that raising a girl prepares her to face the reality of her society and empowers her to contribute positively to the nation.

She said that before COVID-19 and the recent increase in attacks on schools, nearly two in three, about 6.34 million of the country’s 10.2 million out-of-school children were girls.

She said that at the start of 2020, more than 935 schools in the northeast were closed due to attacks, adding that many more schools were now closed in the north due to insecurity.

She said the evidence showed girls were more vulnerable to prolonged school closures.

Agamah said that although Nigeria is a signatory to several regional and international human rights instruments that affirm the rights to education, the country has no constitutional guarantees of access to safe, free and obligatory.

Also speaking, Ms. Omojola Tamilore, University of Ibadan, said the workshop aimed to build girls’ advocacy capacity on socio-cultural issues affecting girls in Nigeria.

Tamilore said the workshop on “Advocating for Safer Schools for Girls” enabled girls to learn and lead.

Source: NAN

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