The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has pledged sustained and continued support to the efforts of the government and other donor partners in pushing the agenda for safe schools and the protection of children.
The UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Borno State, Mr. Maulid Warfa, made the pledge at the commemoration of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack in Maiduguri, the State capital.
While calling for the protection and provision of quality education for children, Mr. Warfa maintained that any nation that does not to protect, look after and educate its children, “the future of the nation is covered with dark cloud.”
According to Mr. Warfa: “The future of our country and our communities is with these young children and if we do not protect them, if we do not educate, look after them, show them love and kindness and if we do not allow them to play and be children, the future of this nation is covered with dark cloud.
“I am saying this because of my experience. I had to flee my own village when I was seven years old and I had to live in refugee camp all my young childhood life. It is only me who can understand what it means.
“The only message I could leave here is, collectively, government officials, men with uniform to protect, defend and look after the interest of this nation.
“I think the most vulnerable person within us are the children and the most vulnerable institution is the education and protection of the children and the protection of education as the centre of civilization, learning and centre of the continuation of our nation’s development is our paramount responsibility and we should encourage one another.
“I want make a commitment on behalf of UNICEF that we are standing side by side with the effort of the government, with the effort of the donors and other development partners that pushing the agenda of safe schools, pushing the agenda of protection of children, pushing the agenda of education is a critical priority for UNICEF for yesterday, today and for tomorrow and we are with you.”
Speaking, the Borno state governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, represented by the State Commissioner for Education, Bello Yakubu, said his government was working hard to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state.
He applauded UNICEF, Save the Children and the Education in Emergency Working Group for their critical roles in ensuring that children return to school and remain safe.
According to the governor: “With the insurgency, most schools were destroyed, parents, teachers, learners were killed, people were dehumnanized.
“The number of out- of-school children had increased considerably and as a responsible government we are very proactive in trying to tackle the issue of infrastructure and making sure that the issue of out -of -school children is addressed squarely.
“Honestly speaking, a huge number of schools were destroyed but as I said, we are proactive in rebuilding, renovating them making sure that they are conducive for teaching and learning.
“More new schools were also established to meet the increasing population and a couple of months ago, we directed the ministry of education and SUBEB to launch and address the issue of out -of –school children in the state and there was a major activity including enrolment, making sure that learners are engaged and put in classes so that effective teaching can take place.
“We are trying as a much as possible to reduce the number of out- of -school children.”