UNICEF, Nigerian Youths Commemorate 2019 Day of The African Child With A Call For Quality Education
Switzerland, June 16
Youths across 10 states in Nigeria, where about eight million children are out of schools, have called for increased access to safe quality education for all children, especially the girl-child.
Mr Peter Hawkins, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, made this known in Lagos, saying the affected states have an average enrolment rate of only 57 per cent.
Hawkins said the action comes as the world celebrates the Day of the African Child on June 16.“It commemorates the day in 1976 that hundreds of students were shot in Soweto, South Africa, while demonstrating for their right to quality education,” UNICEF chief said in a statement.
The global theme for 2019 Day of the African child is “Child Rights in all Situations”, including during humanitarian crises.
Hawkins said the youths had presented petitions to their state governors, parliamentarians, policymakers and other influential persons in a mass effort to get commitments to provide quality education for children.
According to him, the youths’ action was supported by UNICEF.
“The Nigerian campaign for access to quality education will hold the newly-elected government officials at all levels accountable for their campaign promises.
“This is to provide equitable access to free, safe and quality education for every child, especially the girl-child in Nigeria.
“The 10 states where the mass actions are taking place, Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and the FCT, have about eight million children not in school and, an average enrolment rate of only 57 per cent.
“The youth actions we are seeing today across several states is a wake-up call for leaders to act on their commitments to provide quality education for all children, in all situations, “ Hawkins said.
He said the engagement “seeks to secure commitments from national and state governments to prioritise children’s rights to education in their governance agenda, including through budgeting, in their states and at the national level.
“This engagement creates an opportunity for Nigerian youth to advocate to policy and decision makers and urge them to commit resources to education, without which the substantial number of out-of-school children in Nigeria will not be reduced.
“The action is calling for improved school infrastructure, a massive enrolment campaign to bring all children to school, and targeted investments to ensure an uninterrupted 12 years of schooling for girls.
“In addition, it hopes to extract a commitment for a 10 per cent increase in budgetary allocation and release of funds for education, with 50 per cent of the total budget to basic education, recruitment, deployment and provision of incentives for one tfemale teachers per year.
“It also seeks recruitment and deployment of one thousand qualified teachers per year, especially to rural areas, where they are most needed,” Hawkins said.
The UNICEF official said that over 10.5 million children in the country were unable to access safe and quality education, including due to the ongoing crisis in the North-East.
According to him, this has left schools destroyed, teachers unavailable, and parents terrified to send their children to school due to insecurity, especially for girl children, who have been the victims of kidnapping, while at school.
“Schools should be a safe place for children – one in which they can get a quality education that will put them on the path to a secure future.
“Sadly, the demand for quality education by children in Soweto, South Africa in 1976, is still valid today in too many countries around the world,” he said.