House Probes N2bn Safe School Programme

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives has ordered an investigation into the use of over N2 billion released for the safe school initiative alongside donations from foreign countries and organisations.

The House ordered the investigation following the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary yesterday by Hon. Aniekan Umanah.

Moving the motion, the lawmaker recalled that the Safe School Initiative Programme (SSIP) was launched in 2014 to promote security, the safety of schools, pupils, students and teachers as well as facilities.

Umanah stressed that the objective of the programme was to design and implement the best global standards through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of library and laboratory equipment, conducive teaching and learning environment, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels in the Nigerian educational sector.

He observed that the activities of the insurgents and bandits have further exacerbated the already low levels of enrolment in education and literacy in the country as 910 schools have been destroyed between 2009 and 2016, while several schools were forced to shut down due to security concerns in the past six months.

Umanah expressed worry that the unfortunate increase in security crisis in the country with schools as targets as witnessed recently has exposed the unimaginable decadence and dilapidation of schools.

He added that some students now learn under trees, use blocks as desks, the roofs of most classrooms are completely blown off, hostels in pitiable states and most schools are without perimeter fences, etc.

The lawmaker said: “Although an initial $20 million was donated for the takeoff of the SSIP in 2014 and as at 2018 a total of $1,720,2406 (N41 billion) has been realised as donations from countries and donor agencies, yet not much is on the ground to indicate seriousness to fully implement the laudable objectives of the initiative as it relates to the safety of schools, students, teachers and facilities.”

Umanah expressed worry that these incidents may instill fear in parents and guardians and force them to withdraw their children and wards from schools or prevent them from sending them to schools thereby defeating the policy of ‘education for all and the SDG’s goals number 4 and 10 on quality education and reduction of inequality.

He pointed out that the latest development in the criminal activities associated with insecurity in Nigeria, especially as it relates to the invasion of school premises and kidnap of students and teachers for ransom could be contained and defeated through the full implementation of the SSIP.