Making Our Schools Safe, Secure

By Hamza Ibrahim Chinade

Going to school is one thing life is happy with because in the long run the knowledge acquired will be its ingredient. It is therefore a necessity that we go to school. But going to school in the last five years has become a big challenge to students and parents or guardians for fear of the unknown especially in the northeast. This is brought by the insecurity situation in the country, or rather activities of the insurgents in the area. Northeast is where much of the panic stays, because the region has suffered from school kidnappings and attacks. That led to the closure of many schools that became vulnerable.

Parents then were left with no option than to have their children stay at home while their colleagues elsewhere attend classes. School children began a new life of having to be at home during school hours. The classes became dust-gathering rooms without their occupiers. This is a setback to the lives of our tomorrow’s generation and the government must do all it could to ensure that our schools are safe and secure, that is by putting efficient security apparatus to safeguard the students and their teachers from any attack or kidnapping, here the society must also be supportive and cooperative to the measures put in place.

Commendably, there has been a remarkable improvement in the security situation of the dilapidated northeast region especially when one considers the panic and frequency of recurring unfortunate incidences a year ago, it now takes a while before we hear of bomb blast, and many schools have reopened. But, while we appreciate the commitment of governments at all levels in ensuring school children go back schools, we equally want the governments to be more focused in terms exploiting sound initiatives that will further solidify the safety of the schools.

There are a number of considerations why the government should make our schools safe and secure. One, it is a responsibility of the government to provide security for its citizens and their properties, that is why we have the army, police and other paramilitary all around to ensure that we are safe wherever we go, as such the constitutional right of the citizenry should not be tampered with. Therefore security must be extended to our schools in order to place priority on education.
I wonder why security personnel are sent to guard banks and other places regarded as important but our schools rely on hired guards to be watchful of certain happenings-but that is even for private schools where only those that can afford send their children to, as for public schools no one cares to provide them with even the ‘’weaponless guards’’, all the government does is to get an old man who uses walking stick as ‘Maigadi’ and his job is to make sure nobody burgles into the premises. Public schools have been like that for quite a long time and the culture needs to change with the emerging trend of insurgency.

Two, our children need to be educated. Since it is generally agreed that education is the most tangible gift we can give our children as parents or guardians, no matter what, we must be supported towards achieving that objective, here the support I am referring to is removing obstacles and fear on their way, i.e  the government does that by making sure they are safe at schools. While in school, they should be made to freely undertake activities ranging from going to the library, classes, sport arenas, dining halls and hostels for boarding schools, they should be free from being attacked or kidnapped like the ‘’Chibok Girls’’ that still remain captives; we pray for their safe release soon!
We may decide not give our children other things and they will not be affected by it, but denying them education will never be an option.
Many parents struggle hard enough to send their children to school because they regard it as necessary and it will be the greatest disappointment if after doing their part the government cannot secure their children.

Campaigns of encouragement are everywhere that parents should send their children to schools but some may ask; can we send them without being guaranteed their safety? Government must as matter of importance make our schools safe and secure.
Three, regulating security is the sole function of the government. It must therefore perform its task because if it fails no one else could. Utilizing the security system in schools in order to make them safe shows how concerned the government is about education, while neglecting the schools in terms of security also portrays what is known as ‘I don’t care attitude’ from the government side. Some people have lost confidence on the schools due to number of attacks they suffered. Government can only restore their hope by ensuring safety of their children.
Four, safeguarding the schools will provide a better or conducive learning environment. Teachers will conduct their activities with full capacity, unlike when the absence of security makes them to either stay away from the schools or having to feel like risking their lives coming to schools. Government should completely erase that kind of impression by ensuring safety of the schools to teachers and students.

Five, the government should understand that the education sector as a whole is being weakened if schools are not safe and secure. When those in the profession begin to think their lives are at risk, it will eventually lead to some of them quitting which may cause loss of manpower to the sector. And those aspiring to build career in the sector are being challenged by the obvious lack of security. However, the government must realize that putting the lives of students in danger is a setback to national development, because these same students we risk are the future generation and leaders.

Chinade is with Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) project at Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD,) Kano.