President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday decried the sudden high percentage of school drop out which he pegged at 70%.

Speaking while inaugurating the steering committee for the Safe Schools Initiative, the President noted that such a high percentage of drop out was terrible even as children in Borno state, especially were no longer willing to attend school because of the fear of terrorism.

“From statistics, the dropout of students at the basic level of education is quite high. The basic level is the primary and secondary. The dropout at that level is too high.
“Some states are fairly okay with one or two percent. But some states are as high as 70 percent. If the dropout rate of students at the basic level is as high as 70 percent, that means that only 30 percent goes to school. That is terrible.
“In Borno State today for example, children, especially girls are not going to school because of the risk they face from terrorism and violence. This is not acceptable” he said.

The committee is co-chaired by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the UN Special Envoy on Education and former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Other members include Governors of Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Aliko Dangote and Nduka Obaigbena, Minister of Women affairs, Zainab Maina and Minister of State Education Nyesom Wike, representative of NSA, DG NEMA, NCWS, civil society.

Noting that the country is passing through stress at the moment, because of the excesses of the Boko Haram sect, with government approaching it from different fronts, the President said there was need to cushion the collateral damage.

“We always insist that the defence or security does not end terror but we need to stop collateral damage on innocent people.

“For us to win the war, we need to look at it holistically: economic issues, educational issues, religious issues, socio-cultural issues etc.

“At the federal level, we have the Presidential Initiative in the North East (PINE). They are looking at the totality of what the Federal Government can do in collaboration with stakeholders” he said.

Jonathan further said he had received a copy of the report of the North East Economic Summit, and based on this, government was looking at areas where it can come in to assist.

“Under the time, there are two subsets. The one we are inaugurating today, the Safe Schools Initiative, is actually under the Presidential Initiative in the North East but this is pioneered by Gordon Brown.
“We initiated this initiative with government to see how they can tap global fund and private sector and other philanthropists to contribute to that.
“We are also coming up with a package. Because we know that we need to intervene to cushion the effect of Boko Haram. So many people have been killed, we have widows and orphans. Properties have been destroyed, schools burnt” he said.

He said that government is also coming up with the Victims Support Fund, where it will mobilise resources from within and outside the coutry to help cushion the effect, like during the flood of 2012 adding that “we are trying to get somebody that will head that fund. We are looking at the 16th of this month to formally launch the fund. Government will put something and individuals will do to”.

Noting that the incidence of the kidnapping of the Chibok girls must not rise again in the country, the President said the Safe School initiative has been designed to enhance the safety of the children and the teachers alike as well as restore the confidence of parents in keeping their children in school.
“Education and skill acquisition are key to the advancement of our country and ensuring the employment potential of our youths.

“I understand we can only make schools safer within the context of a secured nation but I want to assure you that my government will do everything possible to ensure safety of lives and property nationwide. We have challenges, we are confronting it and we will surely overcome.

“In tackling insurgency, I can assure you that we are deploying a three-point strategy that focuses on security to enhancement of our intelligence and military capability, seeking political solution by working with local governments and communities as well as economic solution through various economic empowerment and job creation programme all directed at combating insecurity” he said.

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