The Safe Schools Initiative, a fund set up to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria and led by Nduka Obaigbena, brings the Nigerian government and Nigerian business leaders together with the international community to ensure that all children are secure when learning. The fund total currently stands at $23 million. Ultimately, young people will demonstrate because they see the connection between abductions in Nigeria, the rapes and murders of young girls in India, the so-called "honor killings" of Pakistani girls who marry against family wishes, the genital mutilation of girls in preparation for child marriages across Africa and the ever-present reality that 7 million school-aged girls are working full time, often in slave labour conditions, many of them trafficked out of their home country when they should be at school.
Schools should be safe havens for children and places for learning and should never become theaters of war. At the UN in September, there will be pressure on every country to adopt military guidelines that include rules of engagement preventing schools -- like hospitals -- from being militarized or used as instruments for waging war in conflicts or civil wars. But the need is now urgent and immediate.