President Goodluck Jonathan has kicked off the Safe Our School Initiative programme with a start off fund of 3.2 billion Naira, with half of the amount coming from the private sector.
After a meeting on the initiative between President Jonathan, former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown and governors from the three least educationally developed states, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told reporters that the fund would help ensure that children in schools in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states got educated in a safe environment.
Explaining the initiative and the fund to journalists, Dr Okonjo-iweala said Mr Gordon Brown, who was also an envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nation on children, was expected to also assist in raising some funds in addition to the benchmark set for the programme.
She said that a total of 100 million dollars was the targeted amount needed as take-off grant for the Safe Our School Initiative Programme by the Federal Government and the international community for Nigerian schools.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala however stated that 20 million dollars had already been raised by the Federal Government and the Private Sector as an initial capital.
“The trust fund would also include: Emergency relief , Reconstruction and Rehabilitation.
“Over 10 million children are out of school in Nigeria and some in school in the three states are beginning to lose interest in education after series of attacks on schools by a terrorist group, Boko Haram, seeking an end to western education.
“Some children that are in school have been forcefully abducted by members of the Boko Haram for the simple reason that they want to be educated.
“To help ensure that learning environment in schools in the three states are safe, President Jonathan and members of his cabinet met with former British Prime Minister, ” Iweala said.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala further stated that the initiative would begin with the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa who have been worst hit by the ugly trend.
“The former British Prime Minister has the backing of the United Nation and the international community on the project which will also take care of the Chibok girls abducted by the Boko Haram sect when they are released.
“Mr Brown said that the abduction of the Chibok school girls is still a nightmare to the international community.
“Brown is in talks with the United kingdom, Norway, the United States and the European Union to raise additional funds to help in the massive reconstruction work that is expected to kick-off.”
The Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam and the Governor of Bornu State, Kashim Shetima, expressed support for the initiative which they said would enable the children feel safe in schools. The development they said would help reduce illiteracy in the north eastern states.
The Federal Government said Nigerian children must have an environment in which they could come back to school and not have anyone truncate their education. The government also called for the support of all Nigerians to make the initiative a success.
The Safe School Initiative is a fall-out of the World Economic Forum on Africa held in May in Nigeria’s capital.