Advocacy Visit to key stakeholders, Policy makers and one day sensitization and step down workshop on school safety declarations held from 27th January – 2nd February, 2022.
Schools at the basic level are uniquely placed to serve as platforms for inculcating in learners, such values as respect and tolerance for individual differences, non – discrimination, conflict resolution, communication and other foundational life skills. Findings from various studies have shown that preventing and responding to violence in schools have not received the desired attention in our education policies. As a result of this gap, schools have virtually become breeding grounds for different patterns of violence against learners. Such violence includes abductions, attacks on schools, separation or harassment on the way to school, suicide bomber, School bombing, attack in communities either within or outside school premises amongst others. Regrettably, the foregoing situation has predisposed most children to seeing schools as places where they are exposed to all manners of violence – playground fighting, bullying, verbal abuse, intimidation, corporal punishment, sexual abuse and other forms of cruel and humiliating treatment in the hands of teachers, non-teaching staff and school mates.
The need to introduce the safe school environment declaration (SSD) Policy in Benue state to key stakeholders and policy makers, seeking consent, collaboration and support to the prioritization of safe school and learning environment; to ensure that stakeholders are equipped with evidence-based knowledge for informed decision making and actions to promote safe schools and learning environments in Benue state was prioritized by Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative (CLHEI) in collaboration with Selu Afrique Community Development Initiative for Women Empowerment (SACDIWE) with support of DRPC & Ford Foundation.
The team paid advocacy to key stakeholders to introduce the projects Goal and objectives as well as outcomes of the project, commitment to addressing the issues of safe school declaration, participation of government functionaries and their impact on the concept of safe school environment.
Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative (CLHEI) in partnership with Selu Afrique Community Development Initiative for Women Empowerment (SACDIWE) held a 1day sensitization and step-down workshop on school safety Declaration (SSD) and a one-day focus group discussion (FGD) to assess the level of awareness on issues of school safety and the attitudes towards continuing sending children to school in a context of school insecurity.
This is in partnership with Development Research Projects Center (DRPC) and support from FORD FUNDATION, with the aim to roll out of the SAFE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT DECLARATION (SSD) Policy, support the prioritization of safe school and learning environment; to ensure that stakeholders are equipped with evidence-based knowledge for informed decision making and actions to promote safe schools and learning environments in Benue state.
This was in active participation of key stakeholders and actors in the education sector in Benue state comprising of Students of Government Girls Secondary School Wadata, Makurdi, The House committee Chairman and the secretary on Education science and technology, Benue state House of assembly. Traditional Rulers, Principals and Heads of Schools, Head of Department Education, LGA Education, Parent, Teachers Associations, Association of Staff Union of Secondary Schools, Universal Basic Education Commission, Teaching Service Board, Makurdi, Gender Desk Officer for the Nigerian Police Force, Gender Desk Officer for the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, The clergy (Rev. Fr.), legal practitioners.
The advocacy for safe school declaration in Benue state is timely and on point with the foreseen issues with child development, protection and education. The House standing committee on Education Science and Technology emphasized the learner’s safety and the need to look into corporal punishment of learners by teachers, he further pledged support to the Safe School Declaration and the need to domicile the policy in Benue State. Selected stakeholders were equipped with adequate knowledge on safe school declaration. The Advocacy Significantly enhanced awareness on safe school learning environment in secondary schools, Government, traditional, religious institutions and Civil Society space.
- Reporting protocols in Schools
- Schools should have safety and preparedness plan
- Strengthen the policy on safe schools Environment
- Enlist vulnerable schools that at the risk of attacks and outbreaks of disease and develop preparedness plans at the state, local and school levels.
- Involving students, parents, teachers and all components in development of school safety
- Appoint a Focal Teacher in charge of safeguarding and code of conduct
- Gender Desk Officers
- Set up system that monitor intrusion at community based and entry points
- The role of the Community Based Management Committee
- Identifying and strengthening the role of traditional and religious institutions in safe school environment, child right and development.
- Parents should enroll children in nearby schools and consider the choice of transportation of children to and from school
- There should be legislation that covers the conduct and misconduct of both teachers and students. And should be mandatorily implemented by the regulatory bodies.
- Legislation should also ensure training and retraining of teachers that apply to all levels of the education sector.
- Parents should ensure monitoring of children and behavior that leads to risk of other children and attacks on schools.
- The project should be escalated to the 23 LGAs in Benue state.
- Students should develop and have love for themselves and their teachers.
- Religious institutions should strengthen efforts to deliver teachings in schools.
- Active Collaboration between the Local and state Government, the security agencies and all stakeholders.
- Urgent need for SSD Policy implementation in Benue State
- Fund expanded training of Stakeholders in the 23 LGAs in Benue State for more effective impact