The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said on Wednesday that the federal government remained committed to creating a good environment for education, which would increase literacy levels in the country.
Adamu said this at the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN) 2022 Summit, with the theme, “Toward Safe Schools in Nigeria,” on Wednesday in Lagos.
“Our actions and policies toward safe schools show the Federal Government’s commitment to the present and the future of this country,” the minister, represented by Mrs Vivian Wategre, Director, Education Service, said.
Adamu said that the ministry, as the apex body in charge of education in the country, was essentially committed to developing and increasing the level of literacy.
He noted that this fits into the larger spectrum of the Federal Government’s commitment/responsibility to the children, youths and the country at large.
The minister said that 31 per cent of Nigerians were illiterate as of 2021, as against 38 per cent in 2015.
This according to him, makes a case for increased efforts in solving the literacy problem in the country.
He highlited some of the Federal Government’s effort at addressing the menace to include a collaboration with the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for global Education.
According to him, there is also a coalition of Nigerian Business leaders, who initiated the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI) during the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in Abuja in May 2014.
He said this led to the launch of the Safe Schools Fund, as an initial response, with capitalisation from the Federal Government, private sector and indicative grants from the African Development Bank.
Adamu said the National Council on Education, in August 2021, approved the National Policy of Safety and Violence–Free Schools in the country and its implementation guidelines, as reference documents for all education stakeholders.
“Also, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the Memorandum on mainstreaming and implementation of the Safe School Declaration (SSD) Laws and Policies in Nigeria, thus paving the way for the domestication of the SSD among others.
The minister said that promoting school safety, therefore, created open space for learners to explore, learn and grow, adding that a safe learning environment was essential for students of all ages.
Adamu, in his address, noted the effect of the security situation in the country on the literacy level of citizens over the years, with insurgency destroying hundreds of classrooms and leading to loss of lives of teachers.
According to the minister, it left 2.8 million school learners in need of education-in-emergency support.
The minister noted that the development also aggravated the already challenging ‘Out-of-School’ menace plaguing the country.
“As a ministry, we must first of all, thank the organisers for coming up with this theme; Toward Safe Schools in Nigeria, at such an important time in the country’s history.
“It is true that the development of this country in a sustainable fashion is largely dependent on how much we can impart on the managers of the future, that is, our children and the bountiful youth of this country.
“Hence, we cannot undermine the imperative nature of a safe and secure environment, which is a prerequisite for effective teaching and learning for empowerment and development,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Tokunbo Wahab, Special Adviser to Lagos Gov., Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that the summit was timely, apt and instructive.
According to hm, the organizers, as members of the fourth estate of the realm, had demonstrated a high sense of professional responsibility as the watchdog of the society.
“With this summit, you have equally expressed your organisation’s readiness through advocacy programmes like this, to join the state government drive to formulate policies geared toward achieving safety and improved security system in our schools so that the vision for delivering quality and sustainable education across all strata of education can be achieved,” he said.
Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, Director, Senior Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, said education was a costly enterprise that should not be left for government alone.
She noted that everyone had a responsibility to ensure safety in schools.
“We need to create a safe environment for the education of our children because education for all is the responsibility for all.
“We all have a stake and are responsible to guide and protect our schools from insecurity and insurgency,” she said.
Mrs Hallidah Mimi, Comptroller of Immigration, Investigation and Compliance, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said an improved technology had been put in place to secure the country’s borders.
Mimi, one of the panelists, said that more efforts were put in place to ensure that external aggressors around the country’s borders were checked, to further enhance safety of schools in the country.
Also speaking, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, the in-coming Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, said that there was need for the formulation of policies that would address issues of bullying and sexual harassment in schools.
“There should be policies for safeguarding such vices, which will also help to identify sexual predators.
“In Unilag for instance, we have put measures in place to ensure that all staff and students are in tune with these policies and get them properly implemented.
“As a nation, we must also ensure that every child is screened,at point of entry into the schools, to ascertain their state of health.
“It is also important that all students must be under the National Health Insurance Scheme,” she said.