NIGERIA AND GCPEA FOCUS ON SAFE SCHOOL DECLARATION CONFERENCE

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Geoffery Onyeama, HMFA & Amb. Lein Knut Eiliv of Norway

As part of the Safe School Declaration Action Plan, the Federal Government in partnership with the Government of Argentina, Norway, Spain, and the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) will be hosting the Fourth International Conference on Safe School Declaration (SSD) in Nigeria.

Disclosing this at the Pre-Conference Briefing hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with UNICEF, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, GeofferyOnyeama said the needless attacks on schools across the world have made the conference so imperative at this time in order to fashion out ways to better protect students, teachers, and infrastructures for providing education.

The event which was also attended by the Ambassadors of Argentina, Norway, and Spain, and other stakeholders is expected to galvanize all the stakeholders towards the main conference scheduled for 25th-27th October 2021 at the ECOWAS Secretariat with the primary objective of addressing unwarranted attacks on schools and schoolchildren.

Commenting on the conference, Onyeama said, “The Federal Ministry of Education has spearheaded the implementation of the Safe School Declaration in Nigeria and has received all the support they need from President Buhari’s government and that is evident in the fact that Nigeria is the first country on the African continent to host this conference.”

In his remarks, UNICEF Country Representative, Peter Howkins, said Nigeria is well-positioned to play a leading role in sharing her experiences, successes, and challenges on how the country has been able to ensure that learning continues in our schools in spite of the challenges of attack.

The Ambassador of Norway to Nigeria, Mr. Lein Knut Eiliv in his remarks, said the conference is a “family reunion”, that SSD is one of the best ways to protect school children from attack. He also stated that about 109 nations have adopted it globally and urged that the guidelines that will come out from the conference be used in practical terms.

Also expressing his solidarity with families whose children have been victims of kidnapping, Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, Mr. MarcellinoAnsorena said to forestall a further attack on education, the conference would ensure criminal accountability to achieve justice for survivors of the attack on education as he expressed the commitment of his country towards the implementation and making sure our schools are safe.

Safe School Declaration is a forum for states, multilateral and civil society organizations to among other objectives, exchange experiences, and strategies that will ensure the continuation of education during armed conflict, deterring military use of schools and universities and to identify actions that government can take to better achieve accountability for attack on education and justice for survivors.

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