By Ishaq Zaki
UNICEF is supporting abducted but released students from Jangebe in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara and other parts of the state to return to school safely.
A UNICEF Consultant, Dr Ahmad Hashim, stated this in Gusau on Saturday at a two-day media engagement for gender responsive and inclusive enrolment drive for back-to-school campaign in Maradun and Kaura-Namoda Local Government Area.
Zamfara is also collaborating with the Federal Government and UNICEF to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on schools.
In March 2020, UNICEF Nigeria received a Global Partnership on Education grant of 40,000 dollars to support ministries of education across the 36 states to prepare a COVID-19 education strategic framework on continuity in learning.
Hashim said the media engagement was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with Zamfara Ministry of Education to address emergency issues affecting education in the face of insecurity challenge in the state.
Two local government areas, Maradun and Kaura-Namoda were selected for the programme.
“We are encouraging affected students through impact mitigation activities to encourage them to continue their education.
“We also encourage their parents to allow their children to continue with their education,’’ Hashim said.
He described the meeting as timely considering the need for sensitisation of parents and other stakeholders on the importance of safe school return.
“We are expecting the media to play a vital role in enlightening the parents and other stakeholders, especially at the grassroots to achieve the safe return of our children to schools,’’ he said.
In his opening remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Alhaji Kabiru Sani, said the closure of schools as a result of insecurity and COVID-19 was one of the major setbacks for education in the state.
He noted that the Universal Basic Education Act gave the right to education to children of all ages irrespective of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
“There is the need to sensitise the general public to have resilient mind-sets that school activities will resume after closure for a period of time. Thus advocacy, sensitisation and awareness are paramount.
“Government feels it is the only workable measure to address issues of emergency, safety and resilience.
“Publicity is one of the key tools to provide information for the general public with a view to educating people on government’s policies and programmes,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Director Planning, Research and Statistics at the Ministry of Education, Hajiya Sa’adatu Abdu-Gusau, said the meeting was to create awareness on back-to-school campaign in the state for continuous learning.
“The meeting is also to sensitise government on the need for the provision of facilities and structures to ensure safety of every child in schools.
“Our aim is to promote general public resilience and safe school reopening amidst emergency issues,’’ Abdu-Gusau stressed.