By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives yesterday mandated its 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 organizations.
The House also 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 the country.
The resolution was reached after considering a motion titled “Need to Investigate the Failure of N2Billion Safe School Initiative Intervention Programme”, by Hon. Aniekan Umanah from Akwa Ibom State on Thursday plenary.
Moving the motion, Umanah said 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.
He said the objective of the Programme was 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 activities of the insurgents and bandits have further exacerbated the already low levels of enrolment in education and literacy in the country as 910 schools have been destroyed between 2009 to 2016 while several schools have been forced to shut down due to security concerns in the last six months.
“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;”
“Although an initial $20 million was donated for the takeoff of the Safe School Initiative project in 2014 and as at 2018 a total of $1,720,2406 (N41 Billion) has been realized as donations from countries and donor agencies yet 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”, he said.
The lawmaker expressed worry that the 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 4 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.
He added that the latest development in the criminal activities associated with insecurity in Nigeria with regards to the invasion of school premises and the kidnap of students and teachers for ransom could be contained and defeated through the full implementation of the safe school initiatives.
The motion was supported by the majority of the members when put to a voice vote and adopted.
The Committee was given 6 weeks to conduct the investigation and report back to the House for further legislative action.
Vanguard News Nigeria