Statement by Gordon Brown from WEF Africa

The thoughts and prayers of the whole world are with Nigeria’s abducted girls and their parents as they face their fourth week in captivity.

Three weeks ago I asked for international support to rescue them. Thanks to John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, with whom I have talked in the last 24 hours, the US and UK governments have agreed to send specialist teams to support efforts in Borno state to locate the kidnapped girls. 

And today, the business community in Nigeria, supported by the Global Business Coalition for Education, has come together with the creation of a new fund to create safe schools and to prevent terrorists from forcing children out of school. 

We cannot stand by and see schools shut down, girls cut off from their education and parents in fear of their daughters’ lives. The education system that has the potential to transform Nigeria cannot be undermined. The Safe School Initiative will put Nigeria on track to help more and more girls and boys go to school and learn.

Starting with a 500-school pilot programme 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.

This initiative is part of our work to give every girl and boy in Nigeria the opportunity to go to school. In the year 2014 every boy and girl should be at school and no one should be prevented from an education.  

Photo © World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell