•Dr. Akiyode-Afolabi making her presentation.

 

The Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi has made a passionate appeal to the Federal and State Governments to invest and implement the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI) nationwide

Dr. Akiyode-Afolabi, who spoke at one- day media roundtable discussion in Lagos on Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) accountability, said government implementation of SSI should cut across public and private Schools as well as tertiary institutions.

She added:  “As of today, no school is safe in the country. Government at all levels must invest and implement SSD in our schools. We advocate for cost action plan on SSD.

The executive director of WARDC called on government to declare a state of emergency in schools because of lack of safety.

According to her, after the Chibok girls attack on April 2014 in which about 216 female students were kidnapped, the nation have experienced more serious attacks on schools including tertiary institutions.

“When the attacks started on schools, we thought it was one off thing but it has assumed a new dimension.

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“If schools are not safe, our children will not be able to go to school.  We worked in Borno State in some schools and after WARDC came up with national minimum standard SSD. Most schools don’t have fences, gates, doors and security personnel, “she stated.

Akiyode-Afolabi explained that WARDC organized programmes on SSD in three states and afterward moved to the Federal Ministry of Education to seek for national policy on SSD.

In her opening remarks, the National Safe Schools Coordinator, Jennifer Ajiboye, said the SSD campaign is to ensure that children can go to schools and returned home safely.

Ajiboye, who spoke on the Overview of Safe Schools UNDEF Project, said “the aim of the campaign is to ensure the implementation of SSD in states and hold government accountable for promises made and money budgeted for SSD.”

She confirmed that WARDC is working in three states, Borno, Bauchi and Kaduna to promote the implementation of SSD using the national minimum standard.

The coordinator of SSD revealed that from visits to some schools, WARDC discovered that they do not have fences gates, no roof and even power supply.

Ajiboye further disclosed that most schools do not know about SSD, stating, “about 20 percent are not aware.”

She explained that roundtable discussion was meant to create awareness for the formulation of legal framework and strengthened relationship with key stakeholders to promote SSD.

“The project aim is to ensure safely, security in schools and the domestication of SSD by states. We hope to ensure Lagos State Government domesticates the SSD,” Ajiboye noted.

Non Governmental Organizations, community leaders and the media acknowledged the need to promote safety in schools and they expected states to domesticate SSD, which was adopted by the country in 2015.


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