Back to School campaign: UNICEF strengthens partnership  with Nasarawa, media, others

From Esther Akaa, Lafia 

The United Nation’s Children Funds (UNICEF) says it was exploring areas of collaboration and strengthening existing relationships with the Nasarawa State government, the media and other relevant stakeholders towards its implementation of the Back to School campaign programme, being implemented in the state.

UNICEF Focal person in Nasarawa State, Mr Ali Musa stated this on Wednesday at a one-day meeting with media executives and professionals on the implementation of the Global Partnerships in Education (GPE) in the state.

According to him, UNICEF in  collaboration with the state government had successfully returned 10,353 out-of-school  children to schools in two local government areas of Lafia and Nasarawa.

He said “23,000 and 85% of children have so far been reached and returned to schools which accounts for 45% (10,353 pupils, 6,116 males and 4,237 females  increased in school enrollment.

“370 schools were involved in GPE supported LGAs (Lafia and Nassarawa).

“370 schools benefited i.e (Lafia 205 primary schools and Nasarawa 165 primary schools) 95% of grant supported schools in the programme area.

“1,770 School Based  Management Committee (SBMC) members from two LGAs namely Lafia and Nassarawa State have been trained on COVID-19 protocols for school safe return and have developed their capacities.

“Also safe and healthier school environment and community are ensured.”

Musa, however, noted that cases of insecurity in some parts of Nasarawa LGA, media advocacy not reaching some parts of Lafia and Nassarawa due to epileptic power supply as major challenges faced during the first phase of the implementation of the project.

He, therefore, called on the media and other critical stakeholders to develop capacities strategies and other ways that will ensure the success of the project in the state.

In her remark, the state Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Fatu Sabo said the state with support from UNICEF/GPE and other critical stakeholders was reviewing the progress report from first phase of the project and drawing recommendations  on activities, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders.

Sabo, represented by the Director, Planning, Research & Statistics, state Ministry of Education, Abdulkareem Ibn-Bala said the state will continue to support the implementation of the project to encourage parents/guardians to send their children back to school.

“I want to appeal to our media houses to also cooperate with us as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We urge you to take the message as you have been doing across, by sending the banner of information on education to our children without hesitation,” she said.

The commissioner appreciated the Governor of the state,  Abdullahi Sule for supporting the programme 100%, saying his support has encouraged some  children to return back to school  after the COVID-19 pandemic.

She, therefore, called on parents/ guardians to release their wards back to school for the overall well-being of the state.

Also speaking, state Chairman of SBMC, Alhaji Abdul Saleh, who described education as the bedrock of every nation, called on parents to send their children  back to school for the good of the society.

He, commended media professionals for their commitment towards propagating the message of out of school children, while calling for its sustenance.

“I want to appeal to the government to collaborate with the media because they are not enemies but partners in progress. They report the programmes and activities of government and so should be given the needed support to motivate them do their work diligently,” he said.

One their parts, representatives of both the electronics, print and social media in the state, who spoke on the campaign strategies and the role of the media in the implementation  of the project, called on government to provide necessary information to enable them do their job perfectly.

The Voice reports that GPE and  Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE), in partnership with UNICEF is supporting 16 states including Nasarawa on bringing quality education to children.

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