In Kaduna, a state in Nigeria’s Northwest region, security concerns have plagued communities for over a decade, with bandits and terrorists frequently targeting educational institutions to kidnap students and reck havoc. In response, the Kaduna State government has announced plans to merge 359 schools due to ongoing insecurity, aiming to relocate them to safer areas to protect students and prevent further attacks.

Governor Uba Sani, represented by his Chief of Staff, Sani Kila, emphasized the urgency of safeguarding schools during a stakeholders forum and training session for the Schools’ Protection Squad. The initiative, launched under the Federal Government’s Safe School Initiative, aims to shield schools, children, and teachers from assaults by non-state actors.

Kila lamented the detrimental impact of insecurity on Kaduna’s educational system, noting a significant decline in student enrollment. He attributed this decline, which saw over 200,000 fewer primary school pupils in the 2022/2023 academic session compared to the previous year, to security challenges in various local government areas such as Chikun, Birnin Gwari, Kajuru, Giwa, and Igabi.

The stark reality of insecurity’s toll on education was highlighted by incidents like the kidnapping of 135 students from Lea Primary and Junior Secondary School in Kuriga, Chikun local government. Such events underscored the urgent need for action to ensure access to education and the safety of students.

Kila emphasized the crucial role of education in national development and stressed the importance of securing schools to achieve human capital development goals. He commended the Federal Government’s efforts, including the launch of the N144.8 billion safe schools financing plan and the establishment of the Schools Protection Squad by the Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun.

To mitigate security risks in conflict-prone areas, Kaduna State has initiated several measures, including school mergers, fencing of schools, establishment of security committees, deployment of vigilance services, provision of emergency lines, security training for staff, construction of muster points and watch towers, and early warning sign identification training.

Kila underscored the importance of community engagement in security efforts, advocating for regular meetings between security forces and community leaders to foster trust and cooperation. He expressed hope that the capacity-building program would equip participants with the necessary skills to navigate challenging security situations and foster strategic communication to gain community support.

The Kaduna State government’s commitment to securing schools reflects a broader effort to address the complex security landscape in the region.