Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has agreed to support an initiative aimed at helping deliver Safe Schools in his country.
The proposal, first put forward by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, follows December’s massacre of 132 young students at their college in Peshawar. It was the worst school atrocity of all time.
Prime Minister Sharif and former British Prime Minister Mr Brown spoke at length last week and both agreed that every effort should be made to keep schools safe and open for girls and boys and to not interrupt their education. Businesses, foundations and aid agencies are being asked to support the Safe Schools efforts in Pakistan.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Sharif said :”While appreciating the continuing commitment of Gordon Brown to the cause of education and universal enrolment across the world, PM Sharif reiterated his personal commitment and resolve to work with him in addressing a challenging situation for school education and security of school-going children in Pakistan.”
Mr Brown revealed that he will look for additional international support for school infrastructure, such as boundary walls and telecommunications that link schools to authorities as well as community-based school safety programmes. Parents and pupils need to be reassured that everything is being done to secure their safety.
The first Safe Schools Initiative was launched by the UN Special Envoy following terrorist group Boko Haram’s abduction of 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. A fund has so far mobilised $30million from business, the Nigerian government and international donors and a multi-donor trust fund has been established at the United Nations.
Nigeria’s initiative focused on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children. It aims to build better school fortifications, link schools to police stations by mobile telecommunications and create community security groups promoting safe zones for education consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves. The first set of schools have received safe schools interventions and the first cohort of the most at-risk girls have been relocated to government schools in safer regions of the country.
The Peshawar massacre by Taliban gunmen on December 16, sparked worldwide outrage and led to a global petition.
It read: “To the Prime Minister of Pakistan, leading donor countries and world leaders:
To honour the children killed in Peshawar, we, the world’s youth, teachers, parents and global citizens appeal to our governments to keep their promise, made at the United Nations in 2000, to ensure all out-of-school children gain their right to education before the end of 2015. We are standing up to bring an end to the barriers preventing girls and boys from going to school, including forced work and early marriage, conflict and attacks on schools, exploitation and discrimination. All children deserve the opportunity to learn and achieve their potential. We are #UpForSchool.”
It has so far been signed by 1,500,000 people.
Mr Brown said: “In the year 2015 every boy and girl should be at school, safely, and no one should be prevented from an education. We cannot stand by and see more children too afraid to learn and schools shut down.
“Even in the world’s most dangerous places we must now establish the right of all children to schooling and make a new idea of ‘education without borders’ a reality.”