Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Nigeria will be hold the fourth international conference on the Safe Schools Declaration in October, 2021.
The conference, the first in Africa with the theme: ‘Ensuring Safe Education for All: From Commitment to Practice’, is a hybrid event with participants attending in person at the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja, as well as attending virtually.
Addressing a briefing on the preparation towards the event yesterday in Abuja, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said Nigeria is ready to host the rest of the world during this iconic event.
A statement issued on the event stated that the event is to be hosted by Nigeria, together with the Governments of Argentina, Norway, Spain and the Global Coalition of Protect Education from Attack.
The statement read: “The Abuja conference is a biennial conference with the overarching aim of taking stock and reviewing progress in implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD), and the ‘Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict’, as well as encouraging commitment and action in protecting education from attack.
“The conference is a forum for states, and multilateral and civil society organisations to enhance experiences and learning, and to present their strategies, progress, as well as challenges in making the promise of safe education into a reality. The conference is also an opportunity for states to hold one another to account for advancing their commitment to implement the SSD.”
The statement further stated that the SSD has now been embraced by over half of all United Nations member states, adding that the central theme of the Abuja conference will be identifying good practice in implementing key commitments in the ‘Safe Schools Declaration; as well as highlighting how this good practice can be strengthened and adapted to different contexts.
The aim is to move beyond just endorsement and expression of commitment to encourage states to accelerate implementation of the SSD.
According to the statement, the overarching objective of the Abuja conference is to strengthen implementation of the SSD by achieving the specifics objectives, which include: “Share good practice in implementing key commitments in the Declaration to inspire other states to adapt the practice within their own context.
“Forge global cooperation and strengthen coordination in protecting education and deterring military use of schools and universities by bringing together education, defence, and foreign affairs ministries, and multilateral and civil society organisations, to discuss prevention and response measures, among others.”
The statement added that due to COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Abuja conference would be a hybrid event with in-person and virtual components to accommodate all participants with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) responsible for adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols.