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FG Partners UNICEF, Holds High Level Forum on Financing Safe Schools

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In a bid to mitigate the escalating security crisis, bedeviling the country, particularly incessant kidnappings in schools which has adversely taken a toll on education, affecting about 12 million children, leading to increased School closures;  representatives of government, recently held a high Level Forum, in conjunction with UNICEF and Safe School Initiative targeted at nipping the crisis in the bud.

The Opening Session of the Forum, ‘Financing Safe Schools: Creating Safe Learning Communities was chaired by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. (Mrs) Zainab Ahmed, and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, His Excellency Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who gave respective opening statements after, Goodwill Messages from, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Gordon Brown Hon FRSE, and the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauleen Talen.

The private sector, donors, and multilateral institutions all unanimously, pledged to collaborate so as to take a holistic  approach to creating safe learning communities to redress the education emergency Nigeria is facing so children can safely return to school. Other stakeholders also acknowledged that the number of ‘out of school’ children in Nigeria must be urgently addressed through sustainable policy action to avoid a social and economic disaster.

Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija of the Nigeria Emergency Coordination Centre who convened and organized the high level forum opened the forum, providing context and background to the impetus for the Forum as she set the stage for discussions and called for sustainable policy action during deliberations.

Other notable speakers were His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State; His Excellency Aminu W. Tambuwal, Executive Governor of Sokoto State; Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, United States Ambassador to Nigeria;  Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Honourable Minister of Interior (as represented by Ahmed Abubakar Audi, Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps); Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba – Honourable Minister of State, Education; Rtd. , National Security Adviser Gen. Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Mr. Asue Ighodalo, Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group; Mr. Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Country Representative (Nigeria); Ag. IGP Usman Alkali Baba psc, fdc, NPM, Acting Inspector General of Police; Justin W van Fleet; Executive Director, Global Business Coalition for Education; Mr. Aliyu Ahmed, Permanent Secretary (Finance), Federal Ministry of Finance Budget & National Planning; and Mr. Shehu Aliyu Shinkafi, Permanent Secretary (Special Duties), Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Mrs Maryam Uwais, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Social Investment; UNODC Representative Oliver Stopel,  Ms Aisha Garba Mohammed, Senior Education Specialist, the World Bank Group.

Also in attendance were Ambassador Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria; Ambassador Ihab Moustafa Awad, Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria; and Ambassador Knut Eiliv Lein, the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Nicolas Simard, the Acting Canadian High Commissioner, and H.E. Joanna Tarnawska, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to Nigeria; Sen. Hadi Sirika, Honourable Minister for Aviation and UNDP Resident Representative Mohammed Yahya

At the end of the forum, Stakeholders committed to work together to collaboratively plan and implement an ‘Abuja Financing for Safe Schools Compact’ which will include the following key elements:

 Commitment to develop a participatory roadmap for the design and implementation of the ‘Abuja Financing Safe Schools Compact’ to create safe learning environments.

Collaborative and participatory planning at all levels of government and with community: All 774 local government authorities will be engaged in developing plans to implement strategies for safe learning environments.

Oversight, governance and strategic direction from regional and national level, with insights and expertise from local, sub-national and national government along with multilateral stakeholder oversight.

Commitment of finance, resource and expertise from across government as well as the private sector and multilaterals: to enable the development and implementation of a cross sectoral ‘Financing Safe Schools’ compact strategy.

Public private partnership and other modalities: to deliver the objectives and needs of a financing safe schools initiative.

Commitment to review:  to adjust the strategy as necessary with key milestones and objectives to be developed to assess progress.

A mechanism is in place to develop the Compact over the next 3 months, involving partnership across government, private sector multilaterals and civil society.  The Compact will be delivered in August 2021 to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and other key stakeholders for approval and implementation.  The Compact will comprise a strategy to finance safe schools and create safe learning communities, a finance plan to support the strategy and a roadmap for implementing the strategy.

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