Press Release: Safe Schools Initiative Launched

7 May 2014

For Immediate Release: Safe Schools Initiative launched at World Economic Forum in Abuja, Nigeria to protect the right to education

  • Safe Schools Initiative launched by Nigerian business leaders in partnership with government, media, civil society, youth, parents and teachers through the Global Business Coalition for Education
  • $10 million fund to be set up to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria following the kidnapping of more than 200 girls last month
  • UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown visits Nigeria for announcement and pledges support of international community; will seek additional resources from international partners and the government to scale up safe schools
  • A World at School Youth Ambassadors say that young people must have a voice in education and will not be frightened or deterred from pursuing their futures
  • #BringBackOurGirls movement continues to build; over 400,000 people have now signed a petition to make schools safe places

A coalition of Nigerian business leaders, working with the UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School launched, a “Safe Schools Initiative” at the World Economic Forum in Nigeria in response to the growing number of attacks on the right to education, including the kidnapping of more than 200 girls last month.  As part of the growing movement to “Bring Back Our Girls,” the initiative is an initial $10 million fund, challenging matching investments by the government, to promote schools as safe spaces.

Starting with 500 schools as the pilots in northern states, the “Safe Schools Initiative” will focus on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children. The initiative will build community security groups to promote safe zones for education, consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves.

In the longer-term, the initiative will focus on bolstering the physical protection of schools, providing school guards and police in partnership with Nigerian authorities, training staff as school safety officers, providing communications tools and school counselors.   The initiative will also work to help schools create school security plans and work with the government to develop a rapid response system so that even when faced with attacks, response units are set up to quickly repair or rebuild, and destroyed education material is replaced.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, is set to meet with President Jonathan this week and will take a plan from the international community to partner with Nigeria for the largest school expansion in the country’s history to get out-of-school children into school.  A petition with already over 400,000 signatures will be delivered later this week to President Jonathan showing international support for creating safe schools in Nigeria so that every girl and boy is able to go to school and learn. 

The Global Business Coalition for Education will solicit more corporate partners to support the expansion of safe schools in Nigeria to protect the right of children and young people to go to school and learn.  

“One of Africa’s greatest assets is its young people who will drive its future development. The Safe Schools Initiative can help Africa unlock their potential and in this light, could be seen as a crucial intervention,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of Gender Parity and Skills Initiatives, World Economic Forum.

“Inclusive growth means building for the future. The Safe Schools Initiative is a public-private partnership that will help protect our greatest asset, our young people, by giving them a safe environment where they can acquire the skills they need to realize their full potential,” said Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, ThisDay Media and President, Newspapers Association of Nigeria.


Photo © World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell 

World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria 2014