In order to ensure adequate safety of school children and teachers, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) yesterday held the first ministerial conference on security in both private and public schools in the Territory.
This is coming on the heels of heightened concerns over increased acts of terror being targeted at educational institutions in the country.
Speaking at the event with the theme: ‘security challenges in schools, prevention, response and rehabilitation,’ the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, said the conference was part of the administration’s on-going concern to evolve a fool proof security framework for schools in the FCT.
Noting that it was the first time such type of gathering is being held, the minister expressed hope that it will afford all stakeholders in the FCT education sector the opportunity to bare their minds on the peculiar security challenges confronting its schools.
Represented by the Secretary for Education, FCTA, Mallam Kabir Usman, the minister stressed that it is no longer news that the nation is faced with serious security challenges, but what is more worrisome, is that most of the many terror attacks are targeted at schools.
“It is lamentable that education which is the bedrock of national development has been singled out by insurgents for constant attacks and raids, often leaving arson, deaths and destruction on their tracks.
“Without any iota of doubt therefore, the battle against those who have declared war on our educational system is a battle for the heart, the mind and the soul of our country; it is consequently a fight we cannot afford to lose,” he stressed.
The minister therefore suggested that stakeholders’ emphases should be laid on school alert and early warning systems, attitudinal change, awareness of basic security tips, safety and evacuation drills, as well as the erection of both institutional and physical firewalls that obstruct unwelcomed guests.
Earlier, the Chairman FCT Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB), Alhaji Umaru Barau, who read the welcome remarks of the Secretary, FCT Education Secretariat, said its intension is to begin to put remedial measures in place before the resumption of the new academic session in September.
He however, stressed the importance of carrying community leaders along in the quest to secure schools, as they are usually the eyes and ears of all the happenings at the grassroots levels of the society.
“There is hardly any community in the FCT regardless of how remotely located that does not have a primary school; these rural communities scattered amongst far reaches of the FCT appear to be quite vulnerable. We have a responsibility to protect them much as those in the heart of the city,” he said.
Peoples Daily reports that the conference was anchored on three premises: how to prevent an attack on a school, what to do and how to react in the unlikely event of such an attack, as well as how best to assist trauma victims to cope with both the physical and emotional effects of such an attack.
Also there were presentations of eight papers in line with the theme of the conference by representatives of the Brigade of Guards, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), both FCT commands of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria police, as well as FCT public health department and Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Among those that attended the conference included various security and emergency response agencies, proprietors, school principals and head teachers.
It would be recalled that recently there was a high jack of a school bus in Nyanya, a popular suburb of the FCT, which was within hours recovered by the police somewhere in niegbouring state of Nasarawa.