Protect schools from attack, NHRC tells FG

The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, on Tuesday said there is the need to better protect education in Nigeria now that the country is recording various forms of attacks on schools and educational facilities.

Ojukwu stated this in Abuja while speaking at a pre-event for the forthcoming 4th International Conference on Safe Schools Declaration with the theme, “Making commitment a reality: Towards the Abuja Conference.”

The NHRC boss said the various crises being experienced in Nigeria had led to the killing and abduction of thousands of learners, teachers and education personnel.

He said the forthcoming Conference, which will be the first of its kind to be held in Africa and in the country and the region severally affected by attacks on education, will provide the opportunity for stakeholders to exchange ideas and come out with strategies in making safe education a reality for Nigeria children.

He said since the Safe Schools Declaration was open for enforcement, 112 United Nations member states have expressed political commitment to ensure the safety of civilians, preservation of the civilian character of educational facilities and the general protection of education from attack.

The NHRC boss said the education under attack report of 2020 showed that over 11, 000 attacks on education have been reported between 2015 and 2019, harming over 22,000 students and teachers in 93 countries.

“These crises and conflicts have not only had devastating effects on lives and properties of Nigerians, but they had also negatively impacted on the rights and access to education.

He said the stakeholders’ forum will provide the opportunity to discuss how to devise an effective national accountability mechanism that will deter unlawful attacks against educational facilities, students and educators.

Ojukwu said the commission will be proactive in abating the rising number of attacks on education across the country.

“We will continue to work within our robust mandate in advising government and other state institutions to prosecute perpetrators of attacks on education and provide non-discriminatory assistance for all survivors of attacks on education while taking into account their distinct needs and experiences based on gender and potential vulnerability and forced displacement,” he said.

In a message to the event, the Permanent Secretary, in the ministry of education, Arc. Sonny Echono said the 4th International Conference of Safe Schools Declaration scheduled to hold from October 25 to 27, 2021 will provide stakeholders with an opportunity to exchange ideas that would assist in making the commitment to safe education a reality for all children in conflict situations.

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