From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, has said activities of bandits, kidnappers and other non-state actors have disrupted socio-economic activities in some communities and were threatening the educational revitalisation programme in the state.

He stated this in his address at a capacity building programme organised by the Nigeria Police Force Schools Protection Squad in Kaduna, yesterday.

This was even as the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Command, Audu Dabigi, said it was a collective commitment to safeguarding the future of children and fostering an environment conducive to learning and development.

Governor Sani said the state’s educational system is facing a crisis of declining enrolment, with over 200,000 fewer primary school pupils recorded in the 2022/2023 academic session compared to the previous year. The dramatic drop (from 2,111,969 in 2021/2022 to 1,734,704 in 2022/2023), he said, is largely attributed to insecurity.

He added that in several local government areas, particularly in Chikun, Birnin Gwari, Kajuru, Giwa, and Igabi, insecurity has forced pushing up the number of out-of-school children.

The governor, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Sani Kila, said incidents like the kidnapping of 135 students from the LEA Primary and Junior Secondary School, Kuriga, Chikun Local Government Area, tragically illustrates the devastating impact of insecurity on education access and safety.

He, however, said to ensure the education of children in conflict-prone and terrorist-infested areas is not interrupted, his administration has commenced the merging of 359 schools with those in safe locations.

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He disclosed the government is also implementing a Safe School Programme to strengthen security in primary and secondary schools.

“We are collaborating with the Nigeria Police Force which is currently training a Schools Protection Squad (SPS). We have made adequate budgetary provisions for the effective implementation of our Safe School Programme to strengthen the security in primary and secondary schools,” governor Sani said.

Sani outlined prevention measures taken by his administration, including the fencing of schools, establishment of security and safety response committees with membership drawn from schools and communities, Deployment of Kaduna Vigilance Service to schools, and provision of emergency line to schools.

Dabigi said the establishment of SPS signifies a monumental step towards ensuring the safety and security of educational institutions, which is the bedrock of our society.

“As we embark on this journey, let us remember the importance of collaboration and unity in achieving our goals.

“Together, with the support of our community stakeholders, we can overcome any challenge and create a safer, more secure environment for our students, teachers, and staff.

“I urge every one of us to embrace the mission of the SPS wholeheartedly and to work tirelessly towards its success. Together, we can make a difference and ensure every child in Kaduna State has the opportunity to pursue his/her education in a safe and secure environment,” he said.

National Coordinator of the Safe Schools programme, Halima Iliya, said the government was mindful of its responsibility to create a safer and more secure teaching, learning, and living environment for the children and has taken several steps in that direction.