With school enrollment rates in northern Nigeria already among the lowest in the country and now exacerbated by the attacks of terrorist organization Boko Haram, the United States government donated $2 million to support Nigeria’s Safe Schools Initiative—an investment in Nigeria’s education. “We see education as a real partnership in Nigeria’s great democracy,” Ambassador James F. Entwistle said February 19 during a signing ceremony to transfer the funds with Nigerian Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The program aims to meet the education needs of thousands of children affected by the ongoing conflict in northeast Nigeria, specifically in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states. Michael T. Harvey, Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Coordinator, Daouda Toure, were signatories to the agreement. The UNDP will manage the multi-donor trust fund to support the Safe Schools program in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Ambassador Entwistle conveyed the commitment of the United States to Nigeria’s struggle against terror. “We are committed to helping in any appropriate way. The Safer School initiative ties into many other things the U.S. is doing to decrease human suffering as part of our overall efforts in helping Nigeria deal with violent extremism,” said Ambassador Entwistle.
Nigeria’s Safe Schools Initiative was launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Nigeria, by Nigerian business leaders working with the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, and the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School.
The trust fund was set up in response to the growing number of attacks on the right to education, including the kidnapping of more than 200 girls last month in northern Nigeria.