Stakeholders supporting educational development in Kaduna State have commended the state government for shutting down a private school following the arrest of the proprietor for allegedly raping a nine-year-old girl.
The stakeholders, who made the commendation in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Wednesday, described the development as “the right step in the right direction.”
NAN reports that Samuel Ejikeme, the Proprietor of Liberation College Tirkania, Kaduna, had been arrested for allegedly raping a nine-year old pupil.
The development forced the state government to withdraw the school’s licence, closed it down and advised parents and guardians to withdraw their children or wards from the school.
Gloria Bulus, Secretary, Kaduna State Basic Education Accountability Mechanism, said the state government’s action was timely and commendable.
According to her, the rapid action will serve as a strong warning to other school owners that abuse pupils and students placed under their care.
Bulus noted that several other girls were being abused by teachers and other school officials that ought to care and protect them.
She pointed out that the larger percentage of sexual abuse on students, pupils and minors have remained unknown because the victims were not speaking out due to intimidation and fear of stigma.
She said: “Children need to speak out and expose the perpetrators of this ugly act for justice to be served.
“Therefore, the Ministry of Education should strengthen interactions with students and pupils in schools to assist victims to speak out when physically abused or violated by school officials.”
Bulus also stressed the need to strengthen the role of guidance and counselling officers by improving their capacity to be able to secure the confidence of pupils to speak out when abused sexually or physically.
“Not only that, female teachers also need to create a bond with female students to enable the students confide in them if they are sexually molested,” she added.
Similarly, the Executive Director, Hope for Communities and Children Initiative, Hadiza Umar, said closing down the school was the perfect thing to do.
Umar noted that the measure would significantly deter caregivers from sexually preying or molesting children that they ought to protect and educate.
“I am very impressed with the swift action of the state government and urge the state to ensure that the suspect is prosecuted and faces the wrath of the law if found guilty,” she said.
On his part, Daniels Akpan, Executive Director, Centre for Educational Development Africa, said the government’s action would reassure parents that their children were being cared for in school.
Akpan said: “This is justice for the little girl and will give pupils and students the needed confidence to speak out.
“It is also a strong warning to other school owners that Kaduna State Government does not condone any form of abuse on children.”
He called on the government to continue to ensure safe spaces for young girls and boys to learn without fear of molestation.