Covid-19: UN calls on authorities to ensure safety protocols before schools resumption

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The United Nations (UN) has called on state authorities in Nigeria to ensure safety protocols are in place before full reopening of schools in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

About 46 million primary and secondary learners across Nigeria are affected due to pandemic-related school closures, according to the global agency.

Meanwhile, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, said in a statement he issued on Monday in commemoration of the World International Day to Protect Education from Attack that prioritising safety in schools for educators and learners would be an indication of the government’s commitment to protecting investments in the education sector.

Speaking on the theme for the Day this year titled: “Protect Education, Save a Generation.” Kallon said that, “As State Governments plan to reopen schools after prolonged closures, building a resilient education system to withstand future shocks should be included in pandemic response plans.

“Education is essential to helping crisis-affected communities in the north-east rebuild and recover. Attacks on schools are a direct attack on future generations.

“I call on all parties to the conflict to take all necessary measures to protect education and give learners a chance to build a brighter future.”

The Nigerian government last week directed school administrators to communicate with parents and students for the full reopening of schools, following the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

In his remarks, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said “As the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact.

“We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future.”

“The UN vehemently condemns any and all attacks on education, including abductions of school children, school-related gender-based violence, herders-farmers clashes, and repurposing of schools for use as isolation centres, IDP camps, markets or for military purposes.”

Also speaking, Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, said, “Schools must remain safe places, free of conflict and violence.

“Safeguarding the right to education for all contributes to the achievement of sustainable development and nurtures the international community’s decades-long gains towards peace, economic prosperity, and social inclusion worldwide.’’

The UN also called for increased funding, with the notion that it would help in mitigating the effects of prolonged school closures on learners, especially vulnerable children, including girls and others living with disabilities.

“In north-east Nigeria, education in emergency partners is appealing for $55 million USD to provide emergency education to 3.1 conflict-affected children this year. So far this year, only $3.3 million USD, a mere 6 per cent of the total needed, has been received so far.”

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