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A Coalition of Nigerian Businessmen Launches the Safe Schools Initiative.

15 May 2014 ThisDay Live kicks off today’s news with the report that a coalition of Nigerian businessmen has launched the Safe Schools Initiative, an effort to enhance safety in schools in Northern Nigeria,through the Global Business Coalition for Education.

Starting with 500 schools in northern states, the initiative will focus on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children.

It will build community security groups consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people, to promote safe zones for education.

In the longer-term, the initiative will focus on bolstering the physical protection of schools; providing school guards and police in partnership with Nigerian authorities; training staff as school safety officers; and providing communication tools and school counsellors.

It will also work to help schools create security plans and work with the government to develop a rapid response system so that even when faced with attacks, response units would be set up to quickly repair or rebuild and replace destroyed education materials and facilities.

Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman/Editor in Chief of ThisDay Newspapers, and leader of the business initiative, is quoted “We are all stunned by the recent events in our country and the impact on the country…At the same time, we could lose a generation of students if nothing is done urgently to address the situation in the northern part of the country, which is fast threatening education in that part of the country.”

Former British Prime Minister and United Nations Special Envoy on Education, Mr. Gordon Brown spoke on the launch of the Safe Schools Initiative. Mr Brown expressed hope that although the initiative is the brainchild of Nigerian business leaders, it would attract the needed support within and globally, stating that no effort would be spared to make it thrive.

Head of Gender Parity and Skills Initiatives, World Economic Forum, Saadia Zahidi added her voice by saying “One of Africa’s greatest assets is its young people who will drive its future development. The Safe Schools Initiative can help Africa unlock its potential and in this light, could be seen as a crucial intervention.”

The Safe Schools Initiative started with an initial take off fund of $10 million but has doubled that amount with the recent support from the Nigerian Federal Government to the tune of another $10 million

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