Safe School Initiative at National and Sub-National Levels in Nigeria
The Safe School Initiative (SSI) is a comprehensive program to ensure students, teachers, and staff safety and security in Nigerian schools. The program is being implemented at national and sub-national levels to create a safe and secure learning environment for all children in Nigeria.
In recent years, Nigeria has faced several security challenges, including violence and extremism, which have affected the safety and security of schools. These challenges have led to the displacement of students and teachers, school closures, and a decline in the quality of education. In response to these challenges, the Nigerian government launched the SSI in May 2014 at Abuja to address the safety and security needs of schools and to ensure that all children have access to quality education.
The SSI has several key objectives, including:
- Enhancing the physical security of schools through constructing and rehabilitating schools and providing security equipment and infrastructure.
- Improving students’ and teachers’ safety and security through training and capacity-building programs.
- Providing psychosocial support to students, teachers, and staff affected by violence and insecurity.
- Strengthening the coordination and collaboration between national and sub-national entities to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach to school safety and security.
The Nigerian government is implementing the SSI in partnership with international organizations, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the European Union (EU), as well as civil society organizations and the private sector.
At the national level, the SSI is being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Nigerian Police Force, and other relevant government agencies. At the sub-national level, the program is being implemented by state and local governments in partnership with school communities and other stakeholders.
Despite the efforts to implement the SSI, several challenges must be addressed. One major challenge is the lack of funding and resources to implement the program fully. Additionally, there is a need for improved coordination and collaboration between national and sub-national entities to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach to school safety and security.
Civil Society in the Context
On the issue of the Safe School Initiative, CSOs can play a key role in raising awareness about the importance of school safety and security and in advocating for increased funding and resources for the initiative. They can also provide support and resources to schools and communities affected by violence and insecurity, such as psychosocial support to students and teachers. Additionally, CSOs can help engage communities and other stakeholders in implementing the Safe School Initiative by providing a platform for community members to voice their concerns and needs.
It is worth noting that the role of CSOs varies depending on the specific organization and context and the level of independence and resources available to them. Despite this, the active participation of CSOs in the policy-making process can bring in a different perspective and foster a more inclusive and participatory process.
The Safe School Initiative is a crucial program that aims to ensure the safety and security of Nigerian schools’ students, teachers, and staff. By addressing the physical security needs of schools and providing training and support to students and teachers, the SSI can potentially improve the quality of education and the well-being of children in Nigeria. However, the initiative still faces funding and coordination challenges that must be addressed to ensure a sustainable and comprehensive approach to school safety and security.