“There is no better investment of time and money than in the life of a child. They are the future” – Alma Powel
Childhood is a memorable and unforgettable time in anyone’s life. How children are moulded today, will go a long way to determine the adults, leaders and activists of tomorrow.
Also, the wealth of every nation is determined not only by its economic and natural resources but by the quality of youths and children they are raising, who will in turn be the shapers and creators of the nation tomorrow.
Therefore, the commemoration of Children’s Day on the 27th of May annually, is necessary to draw consciousness on the issues and challenges affecting children in Nigeria.
According to information culled from the UNICEF Nigeria website,” a little over one in three of Nigeria’s whole population lives below the poverty line, among children, this proportion surges to 75 per cent”.
Poor access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), decrease to immunization efforts and child health, increase in infant mortality, acute malnutrition, and other related child health, are still grey areas. While the government have tried to improve access to primary health care nationwide by expanding Primary Health care facilities, there are still loopholes in the healthcare provision and delivery.
While commemorating the International Day of Education, UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins had said Nigeria has the highest rate of out-of-school children in the world while imploring the government to increase efforts and budget towards education. He was quoted to have said,” 10.5million children are out of school in Nigeria, which is the highest rate in the world. The figure indicates that one-third of Nigerian children are not in school and one in five out-of-schoolchildren in the world is a Nigerian”.
It is also critical to note that girls suffer more than boys in terms of missing out on education. In the North-East and North-West of Nigeria only 47.7 percent and 47.3 percent respectively, receive primary education. A greater percentage of Muslim children attend Qur’anic school which does not amount to basic education while others do not go to school as a result of damage to their school building caused by armed conflicts.
Nigerian children are vulnerable to wide range of abuses and harmful traditional practices viz child marriage, discriminatory practices against children living with disabilities, child labour, child trafficking and traumatic experiences faced by children during communal clashes. What is more difficult is that, the national legal framework for child protection – the Child Rights Act 2003 is yet to be adopted by all states of the federation, making implementation of the document very slow.
It has become mandatory for every nation and every society to nurture a strong, healthy and intellectual youth.
On this note, we therefore implore states of the federation, as they mark the Children’s Day celebration today, to urgently come up with effective and strategic solutions to improve the status of children in Nigeria.
We urge government at every level to;
- Strategically invest in the education of every child in Nigeria, through increased budgetary allocation.
- Revamp the educational sector through adopting technology and digital know-how, teachers training and upskilling in the school system
- Renovate dilapidated school structures for safer learning, safety and protection of pupils
- Re-introduce consistent immunization and special attention to child health and nutrition.
- Adopt and effectively implement the National legal framework for child protection vis the Child Right Acts of 2003 and other policies that protects and reduces the number of children working in Nigeria.
- Compliance with the minimum working age and universal enrolment of Nigeria children in schools.
This way, we can improve the lives of the next generation as we reposition them to face the changing times. Happy Children’s Day Nigeria!