Our Reporter: ROMANUS UGWU, ABUJA
The Federal Government of Nigeria has earmarked a total sum of N435 million as the initial take-off fund for the implementation of the first component of the Safe Schools Initiative, revealing that about 2400 students would be beneficiaries.
Addressing the media after the third Steering Committee meeting of the Safe Schools Initiative in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed that international donors are also contributing to the fund.
Giving an update on the Presidential initiative for the Northeast, the Minister said: “The Steering Committee is a very comprehensive one but today is very important because we are ready to start implementation of the first component of the Safe Schools Initiatives.
“The components involve the transfer of students from the three states under emergency rule who want to study in other parts of the country. It is a purely voluntary programme. Parents who want their children from JSS1 to SSS3 to go to Unity Schools in other parts of the country have been identified. “We have 800 students per state for a total of 2,400 students. Parents participated in choosing the schools they want their children to attend and the initiative is going to support the commencement of studies of those children. There are about 42 schools ready to receive them.
“We are supporting the initial cost for the first year involving 2,400 students with about N435 million. The German government is putting €2 million; British Government, £1 million; Norwegian government has put in $1.5 million; USA is talking about supporting us with $15 million; the African Development Bank (ADB) disbursed $1 million. The World Bank is putting in about $3 million annually and this is just for this immediate initiative.
“Don’t also forget that Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is opening a Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Safe Schools at the level of the UN and we are also waiting for the $10 million (about N1.3 billion) commitment from the private sectors, which we have already applied to the victims’ fund to disburse that for us,” she announced.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said: “We have equally sensitised the principals and every other stakeholder and the students will go on full scholarship and all their needs will be provided just as we provided stipends for their parents who want to see them once or so in a month.
“The children can also go back at critical holiday time. We will be working closely with the states in order to have this in an organised manner. They will receive support and counselling before they go and while they are in the school. We are very grateful to the Ministry of Education for the extensive work they have done in making the project work.
“We are also going to cost what it will take every year until the students finish their schools because the project will also capture those in safe places of the affected states. We have already identified 30 pilot schools in areas where the security is fairly strong for upgrading and enhancement.
Source : SunOnline