From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stressed the need for improved security in public schools, insisting that frequent attacks on schools has significantly affected the interest of children to attend schools, as well as the willingness of their parents to enrol them in schools.
It, however, applauded the efforts of the Federal Government which resulted in the safe return of over 340 school boys kidnapped from government secondary school, Kankara, Katsina State.
UNICEF Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, in a statement, on Friday, challenged the government to secure the release of any other student still being held by the captives, calling on the attackers to release all children immediately and unconditionally.
Hawkins said, “Last Friday’s attack, directly targeting children in the middle of the night, in a place where they should feel safe, was an outrage. Schools should be safe. Children should never be the target of attack and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely the victims of attacks on their schools.
“Attacks on educational facilities are grave violation of children’s rights. This incident is a disturbing reminder of the heavy toll that violence takes on civilians in north-west Nigeria, including children.
“Such attacks deprive children of the right to an education. They make children fearful of going to the classrooms, and their parents afraid to send their children to school. Schools must be safe places for study and self development, and learning cannot become a perilous endeavor.”
He said that interventions must be put in place to ensure that schools are safe, and that all Nigerian children can learn without fear.
“These interventions should take into account the important role that communities play in ensuring the safety of schools, including the support for School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs),” he added.