Safe schools initiative
Title: Safe schools initiative (SSI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning
Overall term: 2014 to 2018
The northeast of Nigeria is being destabilised as a result of the terror wrought by Islamic group Boko Haram. This group is attempting to establish Sharia law throughout Nigeria and create a theocracy under which any Western-style education is banned. Boko Haram’s attacks are aimed in particular at state institutions such as police stations, military sites, prisons, schools and universities, but have also included village communities and towns.
According to the published figures, 276 girls aged between 12 and 18 were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, in the northeast of Nigeria on 14 April 2014. This act caused outrage and fostered solidarity across the world. Boko Haram’s fight against Western education not only jeopardises the Nigerian Government’s education goals. It also prevents a large proportion of Nigerian boys and girls from exercising their human right to education. Staff in schools and universities are exposed to danger and the education structure is being destroyed. In the three most seriously affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, it is estimated that around 300 educational establishments have been completely or partially destroyed. As a result, 120,000 pupils are no longer receiving regular school tuition.
In May 2014, the Nigerian Government, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and a coalition of Nigerian business leaders jointly launched the Safe Schools Initiative.
School pupils, family members and teaching staff in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are given better protection and made safer. Children attend school without interruption.
The German Federal Government is giving financial support to Nigeria’s Safe Schools Initiative and also providing consultancy and assistance with project coordination. Partners are seeking to jointly rebuild school infrastructure in northeast Nigeria with safety issues in mind. Community-oriented safety strategies are also to be introduced in schools. As an immediate response to the situation currently faced by school pupils, the Initiative is offering young people from secondary schools in high-risk areas the opportunity to voluntarily transfer to boarding schools in safer parts of Nigeria. Here, they will also be given psychological support to deal with the trauma they have experienced. Meanwhile, partners in the Initiative are seeking to offer school tuition to children and youths in refugee camps and municipalities that have a high proportion of refugees. Project partners are able to help a greater number of pupils by doubling the number of lessons taught each day (one set in the morning and one in the afternoon) and providing additional teaching materials. They are also running recruitment drives and training schemes so that additional volunteer teachers can be hired to work with young people, and they are setting up temporary classrooms where pupils can be taught.
The German team is part of the steering group and a member of the Initiative’s technical committee.
Partners have been preparing the Initiative since the middle of 2014. In November 2014, the Nigerian Minister of Finance launched the drive to transfer pupils to boarding schools. By March 2015, 750 pupils had been moved to boarding schools in safe parts of the country, where they have been able to continue their school education.