ABUJA, Nigeria – Following a wave of violent attacks and kidnappings targeting school children across the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria has allocated N15 billion in the 2023 budget for the protection of the nation’s most vulnerable.
The announcement was made on Monday, May 22, 2023, during a training event for safe school administrators in Abuja. Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, expressed the urgency of the situation as the number of children not attending school is on the rise.
“We have to take swift action to ensure the safety of the few children who are still in school and to prevent the already staggering figure of 20 million children out of school from increasing,” Mrs Ahmed said through Hajia Halima.
The substantial N15 billion commitment for 2023 underscores the government’s seriousness in curbing the menace.
The ministry has further authorized agencies to disburse the allocated funds.
“We have sent instructions to the agencies to prepare for the release of the funding, aiming for efficient implementation,” Mrs Ahmed added.
A national plan was launched in December 2022, jointly developed by the Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning and the Ministry of Education.
It outlined a comprehensive strategy for school protection across the country.
The Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Ahmed Abubakar Audi, spoke about the grim reality of the crisis.
She noted that an estimated 75% of children are in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps with no access to learning facilities, as per UNDP estimates.
“Fear is fuelling the crisis. Parents are afraid to send their children to school, which has significantly contributed to the increasing number of children out of school in the country,” Dr Audi noted.
The NSCDC, known for its leading role in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure, has been designated as the lead agency for the National Safe School Plan funded by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
“It is worth noting that the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, NSSRCC, is an integral part of our strategy. They are charged with coordinating safety and security responses for schools and local communities, in collaboration with all security agencies and relevant stakeholders,” she added.
The NSSRCC was inaugurated at the NSCDC headquarters on February 13, 2023, signaling the beginning of the Safe School Programme’s implementation.
Since its inception, a committee of experts was tasked with developing a Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, and an implementation framework following global best practices.
The committee completed its assignment and presented the draft SOP on March 7, 2023.
“We’ve taken significant strides towards securing our children’s future,” Ahmed said. “Our commitment is unyielding – we must protect our children, our nation’s future, at all costs.”