Creative education has been identified as one of the most viable tools for preventing ideological radicalization that often leads to violent extremism.

Nigeria’s national security adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki stated this on Monday at the opening ceremony of a five-day SAVE Project Methodology Workshop held in Abuja.

The workshop, aimed at developing capacity among primary and secondary school teachers in the areas of creative teaching methodology and better teacher-pupil engagement, was organized in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Australian Embassy.

In his keynote address, Col. Dasuki, represented by ONSA’s director of policy and strategy, Ambassador Lasehinde, explained why, in order to address the threat of extremism, ONSA had to broaden its national security approach by placing aspects of national life that had not previously been seen as national security priorities high on its agenda. He said the best weapon to counter the very narrow perspective of the terrorist is the ability to think and envision an alternative pathway based on logical reasoning.
Dasuki said: “A child must have a strong sense of reasoning to be able to mentally challenge a message, no matter how authoritative the source, if it does not sound right. Boko Haram has exploited gaps in our education approach where children do not get taught to think to convince them that there is actually provision in the Holy Koran that allows for killing of innocent civilians.

“Thus, it has become imperative that we revisit the purpose of our education system and assess whether, in fact, it is achieving what it set out to accomplish, namely, the production of well-rounded children who are problem solvers as well as creative thinkers, with a sense of purpose, civic responsibility and patriotism.”

The SAVE Methodology Workshop is part of activities under the Blue Ribbon Initiative, an education interventionist programme initiated by the ONSA under Nigeria’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme.

Welcoming the participants, ONSA’s director of behavioural analysis and strategic communication, Dr Fatima Akilu, stated that although education was not the core responsibility of ONSA, a review of Nigeria’s security approach revealed the critical role education plays in countering violent extremism. “When we look at pathways to radicalization, the need for rounded education to act as a buffer against children becoming radicalized cannot be overemphasized. That’s why we are providing support in terms of teacher training and provision of facilities to enhance pupils’ ability to think creatively,” she said.

The Australian high commissioner to Nigeria, Jon Richardson, in his goodwill message, praised the Nigerian government for its effort at stemming the tide of terrorism through the soft approach under the CVE Programme. He noted that radicalization was a global challenge facing many countries, including Australia. He said Australia was pleased to provide support for the SAVE Project to allow children acquire the kind of creative education which would mould them into productive assets to the society.

The opening ceremony, which had 50 participants drawn from public primary and secondary schools in Kano and Kaduna states, was also attended by representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education as well as the European Union delegation to Nigeria.
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