The Federal Government says it will set up a formal negotiation team between the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and relevant stakeholders to look into recent hike in fees in schools across the country.
The Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, made this known at a news conference to herald the commemoration of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack in Abuja on Friday.
Sununu said that hike in school fees could be a core factor leading to attacks in schools, hence the need to look into the area to avert further attacks.
“So many areas that require finances are being attacked but we must also look at the constitutional provisions.
“The constitutional provisions expressly states that free education but with a caveat ‘when government can afford’ and that is why it comes also as voluntary contributions by all stakeholders.
“When we say safety in schools, it is a collective responsibility. So we are going to encourage formal negotiations.
“Where we cannot provide, it is to encourage PTA and relevant institutions so that we can agree to a term that is acceptable to all of us.
“Also, we will encourage a lot of partnerships as part of areas that can bring peace. Whether we agree or not, we must appreciate the role of PTAs in sustaining services in lots of our schools in both local and federal levels.
“So, while we do that with scarce resources, at the ministry level, we try to see how we can block leakages and see how more funds can be available to schools to ensure that quality education is affordable, acceptable to every Nigerians without decreasing the quality of education,” he said.
The minister also said that the Federal Government had ratified the Safe School Declaration in December 2019 and developed a safe school policy in furtherance to upholding the right to education in emergency situations.
He pledged the ministry’s commitment in developing learning centres in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps as well as providing relevant information on threat assessments to the schools at all levels.
“Nigeria in recent past has had more than a fair share of attacks on our education system at all levels. These attacks are not only physical but also non-physical, especially on deliberate attempts to water down our standards of education.
“The Federal Ministry of Education, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, have put in place various strategies to deal with these attacks.
“All our efforts would be geared towards implementing the safe school policy for all. The pre-activities of the celebration include playlet, dance, drama, poetic rendition and quiz competition.
“The presentation by learners are expected to emphasise the need for collaboration and focus on school safety policy for implementation guidance by all stakeholders,” he said.
He explained that the ministry is key in the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu in moving Nigeria on the right track.
He said at the first inaugural meeting with the president, security was a major factor that featured in the deliberation of the council and attempt to return at least four million out-of-school children back to school.
He said the ministry would ensure it lives up to its responsibilities by ensuring standards at the various educational levels.
It was reported that the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, observed every year on Sept. 9, is an international observance by the United Nations General Assembly established in 2020.
Nigeria will be observing the celebration on Friday, Sept.8, 2023.