Curbing abduction in schools, by stakeholders

mahfouz adedimeji

Stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to tackle insecurity in schools and make learning spaces safe for pupils while deploying strong and effective mechanisms. They argue that incorporating security education in school curriculum may be welcomed though it is not the solution to incessant abduction of pupils, DAMOLA KOLA-DARE reports.

Recurrent attacks on educational institutions, teachers, and pupils are worrisome. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) noted that since 2018, over 30 schools have been attacked in the country resulting in at least 2,295 teacher deaths and over 1,000 child abductions.

The abduction of pupils is alarming. Bandits see schools and pupils as soft targets and as such demand heavy ransoms to the tune of hundreds of millions to release kidnapped children.

On March 7, 287 pupils of pupils and teachers of the Government Secondary School and LEA Primary School, Kuriga 1, in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State were abducted. According to a teacher in the school, 100 pupils were abducted from the primary school while 187 students were abducted from the secondary school. Both schools are on  the same premises.

Prior to that, some pupils and staff members of Apostolic Faith School in Ekiti State were abducted on January 29, 2024, from their school bus. Though  they were freed later,  the driver was found dead.

From Chibok to Dapchi, Kankara, Kagara to Ekiti, Chikun, among others, insurgents remain unrepentant and continue to kidnap  thousands of school children.

But the Federal Government is losing sleep over the matter. The  House of Representatives last week  urged the Federal Ministry of Education on the inclusion of security education  as a core subject in  Primary and Secondary School Curriculum. It called on the Committee on Basic Education and Services to ensure implementation.

These followed the adoption of a motion entitled: “Need to Incorporate Security Education as Core Subject in Nigeria’s Primary and Secondary School Curriculum,” moved by Hon. Omirin Emmanuel Olusanyo.

According to the House, the subject would prepare students for challenges in security. It stated that security education was vital for individuals to understand potential threats and deploy the right  measures to protect themselves and their assets.

It would equip students with the necessary skills  and knowledge to direct the various contemporary security challenges, including economic, political, social, and environmental threats.

For the house, due to worsening insecurity in the country, children should learn defence mechanisms, master first aid principles and emergency handling skills; hence, investing in security education is essential to protect students.  Knowledge, skills and awareness in security education would empower them to take preventive action.

As laudable as the move might be, observers and stakeholders believe the menace of insecurity and attack on schools have gone beyond the inclusion of security education in the curriculum.

One of such is immediate-past Vice Chancellor of Ahman Pategi University(APU), Kwara State, Prof. Mahfouz Adedimeji,who noted that security education is enough to address kidnapping and insecurity. He said  civic education and peace education already cover aspects of security education.

The erstwhile  Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), described as ‘patently myopic’ the recourse to the curriculum as solution to every social problem.

Adedimeji said there was an obsession with considering the school system or the curriculum the solution, the almighty formula, to every emergent problem.

He said: “For instance, there is a drug problem and it has been suggested that it should be addressed in the curriculum. Nigeria is also facing the problem of corruption. The solution is to put Corruption Studies in the curriculum. We have problems with immorality, so Sex Education should be in the curriculum. Everything is about the school system! How many subjects will pupils offer?

“What is needed is for us to focus on human development, which is the process of enlarging people’s options and opportunities, enhancing their capabilities and improving their wellbeing.

“Human development will engender human security with its three components of freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in dignity. It is human security that complements state security and at the same time strengthens human development.

“In simple terms, when hunger is banished, poverty is curtailed and unemployment is tackled by our leaders, the motivation for crime will be substantially reduced. They say idle hands are a devil’s workshop.

“I believe that insecurity is largely due to poor governance. When we put good governance in place, there will be no incentive for crime. In fact, through good governance, which prioritises human development and human security, people will be protected against a broad range of threats to themselves and their communities. They will also be empowered to act on their own behalf and solve their own problems.”

For Coordinator Child Protection Network Lagos State chapter, Mrs. Ronke Oyelakin, teaching security is not the major issue right now, though it is a step in the right direction. She said it was imperative to declare a state of emergency on the issue as long as the security situation of the nation does not improve.

“We call on our dear President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to kindly declare a state of emergency on security in view of the rising cases of killing of innocent Nigerians and kidnappings for ransom, including school children and teachers.

“Many communities have been seriously affected and I can tell children will be withdrawn from school because of fear of what if they come to my community and my school. The state should beef up security and then every other thing can follow.

“Government at all levels should do the needful since security is everybody’s business. Nothing can be achieved without security assurance in the country. So, it is imperative to move all stumbling blocks that are bedeviling our security architecture.

“It is our hope that the Federal State, Local Government and all stakeholders in education should join hands to protect our schools and the education workers in Nigeria.”

President, Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), Mr. Emmanuel Orji, noted that the inclusion of security education in the curriculum  may not give quick results  on addressing insecurity.

He said though security education was important, it is not the only thing needed to address kidnapping and insecurity in schools.

Orji highlights measures to be deployed as quick fix to the problem.

“There should be improved physical security, such as better perimeter security, CCTV cameras, and metal detectors. Also improved training for school staff on security procedures, threat identification, and emergency response is vital.Collaboration with local law enforcement agencies to create a coordinated security plan, more funding for school security programmes and infrastructure are also important.

Also, there should be better community engagement, including working with parents and community groups to improve awareness and reporting of suspicious activity. Then as a matter of fact and urgency, bearing of arms and ammunition should be seen as a quick fix. Let everyone buy and move about with guns,” he said.

The AFED President stressed the need to also  address the causes of insecurity, such as poverty, unemployment, and social exclusion.

He said failure to address these issues would render security education inconsequential towards curbing kidnapping in schools.

His words: “Leadership change of attitude is important.The love for wealth should be tackled as you can see the ripple effect. Others want to use any means possible to be like our leaders.

“Furthermore, we must rethink Nigeria as a nation. Let’s discuss it.  In order to avoid total collapse of this country, we must stop trying to solve our problems using the same ways and means that have not worked over the years. We cannot do same  thing over and expect a different result.”

Deputy National President National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said: “Basically the security situation right now is so terrible that whatever measure they(Government)  take is right. The move is welcome. It will make many of us and our children aware of security situation in our schools. It is a win win situation. Security education in our schools is wonderful. Having been announced, unfortunately kidnapping of school children continues.

“The security agencies should be up and doing because we still have to rely on them. One of the deliberate actions being taken by government is the move to include security education in our school curriculum. Many  kids have been kidnapped. It is sad. Government should start thinking of engaging armed  security personnel in schools. Our schools must prioritise safety and security. Schools have become soft targets because they are helpless. The Amotekuns, armed security personnel and other agencies should be engaged both in public and private schools.”