By Chijioke Njoku
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has urged governments at all levels to tighten up the security of schools as well as improve access to quality learning for children.
According to UNICEF safe school data for September 2023, a total of 723 schools have been closed down, and over 40.000 children have been forced out of schools in the north and southeast of Nigeria due to insecurity, depriving these children of the right to a quality education.
At a multi-zone press conference marking the 2024 International Education Day, held in Enugu State, a communiqué signed by the UNICEF Communication Officer for Media, Advocacy, and Partnerships in the Enugu Field Office, Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha, pointed out the challenges of the education sector, which include a surge in violence and insecurity and the need for an improved learning environment.
Relating to the theme of the year’s celebration, which is “Learning for lasting peace,” UNICEF advocated for tightened security in schools and encouraged the government to ensure that schools in rural areas have access to digital learning materials to keep them up to speed.
It further encouraged a safe, healthy, hygienic, and protective learning environment while condemning discrimination against physically challenged children on school admissions and calling for inclusivity in the education system in that regard.
Participants at the multi-zone press conference held on Wednesday in Enugu State concluded that Nigeria is at a critical moment in its present educational state and therefore expected urgent and effective attention by the government and all stakeholders in the education sector in making the necessary contributions towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 4.