Reps probe N43bn safe school initiative, foreign donations

May 7, 2021
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The House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled plans to investigate the utilisation of the N43 billion Safe School Initiative and other donations. 

Breakdown of the funds accrued for the implementation of the programme showed that $20 million was donated for the take-off of the Safe School Initiative project in 2014 and as at 2018 a total of $1,720,246 (N41 billion) has been realised as donations from countries and donor agencies. 

However, not much is on the ground to indicate seriousness to fully implement the laudable objectives of the initiative as it relates to the safety of schools, students, teachers and facilities. 

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to investigate the failure of N2 billion Safe School Initiative Intervention Programme’ sponsored by Honourable Aniekan Umanah. 

While frowning on the plight of millions of Nigerian children out of school, Honourable Umanah observed that the activities of the insurgents and bandits had further exacerbated the already low levels of enrollment in education and literacy in the country as 910 schools have been destroyed between 2009 and 2016 while several schools have been forced to shut down due to security concerns in the last six months. 

“The House notes that the Safe School Initiative Programme was launched in 2014 to promote security, the safety of schools, pupils, students and teachers, as well as facilities. 

“The House also notes that the objective of the programme is to design and implement the best global standards through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of library and laboratory equipment, conducive teaching and learning environment, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels in the Nigerian educational sector. 

“The House is disturbed that the unfortunate increase in security crisis in the country with schools as targets witnessed recently has exposed the unimaginable decadence and dilapidation of schools in Nigeria where some students learn under trees, use blocks as desks, the roofs of most classrooms are completely blown off, hostels in pitiable states and most schools are without perimeter fences, etc. 

“The House is worried that these incidents may instil fear in parents and guardians and force them to withdraw their children and wards from schools or prevent them from sending them to schools thereby defeating the policy of education for all and the SDG’s goals number four and 10 on quality education and reduction of inequality apart from depriving Nigerian children of the opportunity of having quality education to compete with their peers globally. 

“The House is concerned that the latest development in the criminal activities associated with insecurity in Nigeria, especially as it relates to the invasion of school premises and kidnap of students and teachers for ransom could be contained and defeated through the full implementation of the safe school initiatives.” 

In the bid to address the challenge, the House urged the Federal Government to collaborate with state governments to restore, revive and revalidate the safe school initiative and deploy special security personnel to schools in Nigeria. 

To this end, the House mandated the Committee on Basic Education and Services to carry out an investigation into the use of over N2 billion released for the safe school initiative alongside other donations from foreign countries and organisations and report back within six days for further legislative action.

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