In April 2014 gunmen from the Islamist Boko Haram group attacked a government Girls' Secondary School at Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria, abducting 276 schoolgirls.
Since then, more than 1000 students have been kidnapped - including almost 300 girls from a school in Jangebe, in the country’s north west, last month and more than 2000 teachers have been killed.
A heavy burden has been added to the 2020-21 academic year with schools having to close due to urgent security and safety issues. This move has impacted an estimated 1.3 million Nigerian children.
Earlier this year, just days after the seventh anniversary of the Chibok kidnappings, the international community joined the Nigerian government efforts and those of the private sector to launch the Abuja Compact on Safe Schools.
Part of the European Union’s global humanitarian effort is to support education in crisis situations. Over a long period, the EU has promoted inclusion and has partnered with organisations on the ground for an effective education response in affected communities in Nigeria.
One example, introduced before the COVID pandemic began, was the EU’s contribution to establishing a learning centre for thousands of 15-25 year-olds living in the north east. Other north-eastern states have also been on the EU’s radar in terms of safe learning opportunities.
"Part of the European Union’s global humanitarian effort is to support education in crisis situations. Over a long period, the EU has promoted inclusion and has partnered with organisations on the ground for an effective education response in affected communities in Nigeria"
Between 2014 and 2020, The EU’s support to Nigeria from the European Development Fund (EDF) was around €562m.
The Nigerian government’s new plan is an opportunity for the EU to further focus on, and allocate, aid to where it is most needed. Holding every stakeholder accountable for delivering the plan is a rule that falls within the EU’s paradigm of principles.
The EDF as a source of development aid has already been incorporated into the EU’s 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework.
In this respect, the European Parliament will have a greater role and say in distributing the respective funds. The Nigerian compact will need support for safe schools in the country’s conflict-affected regions.
The plan of action and the multi stakeholder framework includes the transfer of school children from high-security risk areas, a rehabilitation programme for schools and a financing roadmap.
Innovative forms of finance envisage public-private partnerships. This option may be combined with funding via the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd).
"The plan of action and the multi stakeholder framework includes the transfer of school children from high-security risk areas, a rehabilitation programme for schools and a financing roadmap"
This approach would meet the criteria of the major international donor countries to the IFFEd, such as Germany, the Netherlands, the US and the UK.
Guarantees are supplied by the donor countries and finance is additionally raised on the international money markets.
For the EDF to step in the innovative solutions would imply more guaranteed, accountable and sustainable outcomes.
Unlocking more long-lasting change in the country is directly linked to the safe access to education, particularly for a country that has one of the highest levels of “out of school” children in the world.