Zamfara government, in collaboration with Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF, flagged off a Back-to-School and school safety campaign in Gusau on Wednesday.
The campaign brings to an end the closure of schools in the state because of insecurity and the outbreak of COVID-19.
The campaign flag-off was organised by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and UNICEF Nigeria.
GPE and UNICEF are supporting Gender Responsive and Inclusive Enrolment Drive for Back-to-School campaign and Safe School Re-opening in Maradun and Kaura-Namoda Local Government Areas of the state.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Alhaji Kabiru Sani, flagged off the campaign on behalf of Gov. Bello Matawalle.
He said the closure of schools was one of the major setbacks to educational programmes in the state.
He said the outbreak of COVID-19 and insecurity disturbed the political, social, economic, religious and financial structures of the state.
“We are all aware of the negative effects that COVID-19 has caused to the education of our children in Zamfara.
“It is in the light of this that we are gathered here today to appreciate the GPE, the Federal Ministry of Education and UNICEF for bringing this laudable intervention to Zamfara.
“It is disturbing, however, that after the COVID-19 lockdown had ended and insecurity issues had abated, children were still not attending school,’’ Sani said.
UNICEF consultant, Dr Ahmad Hashim, described the flag-off as timely, adding that UNICEF had been supporting Zamfara over the years, especially in the area of girl child education.
“We have been providing financial and technical support to the state; we trained more than 10,000 teachers.
“Millions of naira had been spent by UNICEF as cash transfer to vulnerable children in the state aimed at reducing number of out-of-school children.
“Before our intervention, Zamfara had more than 500,000 out-of-school children, but with government’s efforts and support from partners such as UNICEF, the number has reduced to 300,000,’’ Hashim said.
He commended Gov. Matawalle for providing counterpart funding to UNICEF.
Various speakers at the event expressed the need for government and all stakeholders to initiate measures to ensure safe return of students to school in the state.