Business Leaders Launch "Safe Schools Initiative" in Nigeria
“Inclusive growth means building for the future. The Safe Schools Initiative is a public-private partnership that will help protect our greatest asset, our young people, by giving them a safe environment where they can acquire the skills they need to realize their full potential.”
Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman, ThisDay Media Group and President, Newspapers Association of Nigeria
A coalition of Nigerian business leaders, working with the UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School launched the Safe Schools Initiative at the World Economic Forum in Nigeria in response to the growing number of attacks on the right to education, including the kidnapping of more than 200 girls last month.
The initiative is launched in partnership with government, media, civil society, youth, parents and teachers through the Global Business Coalition for Education. As part of the growing movement to “Bring Back Our Girls,” the initiative is an initial $10 million fund, challenging matching investments by the government, to promote schools as safe spaces.
Starting with 500 schools as pilots in northern states, the Safe Schools Initiative will focus on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children. The initiative will build community security groups to promote safe zones for education, consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves.
In the longer-term, the initiative will focus on bolstering the physical protection of schools, providing school guards and police in partnership with Nigerian authorities, training staff as school safety officers, providing communications tools and school counselors.
The initiative will also work to help schools create school security plans and work with the government to develop a rapid response system so that even when faced with attacks, response units are set up to quickly repair or rebuild and replace destroyed education material.
“One of Africa’s greatest assets is its young people who will drive its future development. The Safe Schools Initiative can help Africa unlock their potential and in this light, could be seen as a crucial intervention,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of Gender Parity and Skills Initiatives, World Economic Forum.
The Global Business Coalition for Education will solicit more corporate partners to support the expansion of safe schools in Nigeria to protect the right of children and young people to go to school and learn.
Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, is set to meet with President Jonathan this week and will take a plan from the international community to partner with Nigeria for the largest school expansion in the country’s history to get out-of-school children into school.
The #BringBackOurGirls movement continues to build. A petition with already over 400,000 signatures will be delivered later this week to President Jonathan showing international support for creating safe schools in Nigeria so that every girl and boy is able to go to school and learn.
Watch the full press conference here:
Photo © Global Business Coalition for Education 2014