UNICEF trains over 300 Bauchi teachers, others on school safety measures

By Samuel Luka, Bauchi

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has conducted a three day training workshop for Heads of Primary and secondary schools as well as School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs) in Misau local government area of Bauchi state.

Addressing the participants at Mangari Primary School in Misau town Wednesday, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Dr. Tushar Rane, said that the training is aimed at building capacity and strengthening of teachers, and community leaders on safe school guidelines.

According to him, Nigeria has witnessed instances of attacks on education which has led to a significant number of students discontinuing their schooling due to the disruption of educational activities.

Rane while pointing out that education fosters socio-economic prosperity, and other elements for achieving peace, regretted that not all children can reap the protective and peace-building advantages of education.

He further decried that children’s access to education is disrupted by factors such as occupation by state or non-state actors, fear of attacks, and other related reasons, including school-related gender-based violence, encompassing physical, emotional, and sexual forms.

Mr Rane observed that bullying can lead to severe mental health consequences, diminished self-esteem, heightened rates of school dropout, and poor attendance.

He said a recent assessment showed that, on average, approximately 43% of the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools are being fulfilled across approximately 6,000 evaluated schools in Nigeria.

Rane pointed out that the Nigerian government has initiated various policies to ensure the safety of students and teachers both within and beyond school premises.

He said that the initiatives include the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI), the Domestication of the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD), the establishment of Minimum Standards for Safe Schools, the National Policy on Safety, Security, and Violence-Free Schools (NPSSVFS), and the Implementation Guidelines.

The Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office stated that the Minimum safety school standards are broken down into six key result areas to include; Strong school system; Violence against children; Natural hazards; Conflict; Everyday hazards; and Safe school infrastructure.

Rane said in Bachi Field office, UNICEF is facilitating the implementation of the minimum safety standards in three states of Adamawa, Bauchi, and Gombe, with plans to expand to Plateau and Taraba states.

“We are enhancing the capacity of frontline workers including 1,385 teachers, head-teachers, and school-based management committees at the basic education level, equipping them to respond to emergencies, including school attacks, and developed school emergency preparedness response plans to make sure the schools are safe and habitable for students, teachers and all stakeholders to carry out their activities without risks”, he said.

According to him, the ongoing capacity building efforts include training the first cohort of 350 teachers across six local government areas of Ganjuwa, Alkaleri, Toro, Shira, Zaki, and Ningi in Bauchi state.

“Simultaneously, the second cohort, undergoing across Adamawa, Bauchi, and Gombe states comprising 200 frontline workers in Bauchi across Misau, Dass, Giade and Darazo local government areas of Bauchi state”, Mr Rana disclosed.

He said that the UNICEF is working with the state governments to increase public financing for safe schools by engaging high-level government and political stakeholders and providing technical support to establish safe school committees.

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