The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that the mass abduction of school children, particularly girls in Nigeria, is posing a serious threat to the future of children and development of education in the country.
The organisation said efforts must be ramped up by both federal and state governments to protect learning facilities and well-being of children in the country considering the rising wave of kidnapping and other security challenges.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Kano, Maulid Warfa, who stated this during the signing of commitment for the continuation of Girl's Education Project (GEP3) by the Emir of Daura, Dr. Umar Farouq Umar, at his palace, said the kidnapping of schoolchildren is a worrisome development in the education sector.
The GEP 3 programme, funded by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK, is being implemented by UNICEF in six northern states of Katsina, Bauchi, Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kano to support girls' enrolment, retention and transition in school.
He admonished traditional institutions to facilitate the safeguarding of children in schools and their homes as well as to support government at all levels to ensure that learning facilities are protected against kidnapping and other nefarious activities orchestrated by hoodlums in the country.
He said: "Education of our children is fencing very serious challenges, including the mass kidnapping of boys and girls. Mass kidnapping of school children is something that is very worrisome to all of us and as UNICEF, we condemned the act.
"Children are the future of the country, they need their rights to be fulfilled, they need their education to be assured. Therefore, we urged federal and state governments, communities, parents and all well-wishers to ensure the safety and the well-being of children at school, home, market and everywhere."
He, however, said 330,000 girls have been enrolled in public primary schools and 550,000 boys have benefited from various UNICEF social intervention programmes through its GEP 3 project in the state.
The Emir of Duara, Dr. Umar, while responding, vowed to put proactive measures in place to ensure the sustainability of GEP3 and other notable UNICEF programmes in the state that would enhance the enrolment and retention of children, particularly girls in schools.
Meanwhile, the same commitment was also endorsed by the Kaura Katsina, Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, on behalf of the Emir of Katsina, Dr. Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, where he assured UNICEF of the emirate's unflinching support.