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UNICEF bemoans violent attacks leading to learning disruption of over 1.3m children

By Akanji Alowolodu, Bauchi 

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that the 2021 series of violent attacks on schools, particularly in the North-East and North-West regions, had led to learning disruptions for over 1.3 million children, necessitating precautionary school closures.

This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday by Safiya Akau, Communications Officer, UNICEF, Nigeria.

Consequently, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate called for a multi-sectoral approach to improve school safety through comprehensive planning, coordination, and adequate resource allocation, especially in states with higher risks.

The Country Representative however commended the significant progress made in providing access to education for 7.2 million children in humanitarian settings across Nigeria, adding that the success was achieved via a collaborative efforts with the government, donors and partners.

According to her, “A recent evaluation indicates that, on average, only 43 per cent of the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools are being met in about 6,000 assessed schools.

“This finding particularly highlights challenges in ensuring the safety of school infrastructure and in mitigating risks such as violence, conflict, and natural hazards.Nigeria had shown a commitment to creating safe school environments by endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and developing the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools,” she said.

According to her, there is room for further progress, while also calling for collective responsibility in safeguarding the educational environment for every child.

She stressed that, “Education is a key driver of gender equality, economic growth, and social development, but sadly, it remains inaccessible to many Nigerian children.”

Munduate added that, “Their educational journey is often disrupted by attacks on communities and schools, including the abduction of students.These challenges are particularly acute for adolescent girls, potentially stalling the progress made in girls’ education in Nigeria.”

She further stated that, “To complement these efforts, UNICEF emphasiszes the importance of alternative learning platforms, such as the Nigerian Learning Passport.This digital platform, with over 750,000 users, offers curriculum-aligned materials and is crucial for ensuring continuity of education, especially during school closures.

“UNICEF remains committed to working with the Nigerian government, donors, and all partners to ensure that every child has access to a safe, inclusive, and quality education,” Munduate added.

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