In celebration of Children’s Day, the United Nations Child Emergency Fund has called for reinforcements of the child’s rights protection.
According to the Unicef country director, Peter Hawkins, the outbreak of the pandemic has threatened the decades of progress, the world body made for children’s development. Poverty as well as inequality is growing and pandemic has disrupted essential services that secure the health, education and protection of children and young people.
“Violence is perpetrated against one in four Nigerian children – and one in three Nigerian girls are sexually abused. This has only increased during the pandemic. Today of all days, we must commit to reinforce the protection mechanisms for all children”, the Country Director stated.
It is important for Nigeria to provide better security system to protect her children especially due to the current happenings in the society. The recent spate of mass kidnappings of school children represent a serious threat to Nigeria’s education system. In less than three months between December 2020 and March 2021, more than 600 children have been kidnapped while in school, in three separate incidents.
More worrisome is the heightened insecurity that is rampant in northern Nigeria, which is already the most educationally disadvantaged region. Also, most schools in the northern region lack basic infrastructures such as tables and chairs, most of these kids have to sit on the floor to learn.
Moreover, of the estimated 10.5 million out-of-school children in the country, 69 percent come from the North, where cultural practices and economic deprivation limit children’s active participation in school, particularly females. Adamu Ahmed, a teacher in Nassarawa said that the forceful closure of school in the northern region had increased cases of child marriages and early pregnancies of school-age girls. He added, “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that no child is left behind. Education is a human right and the government must ensure that all children have access to basic education in an environment free from violence and threats of attacks.”
To protect our children and for education to survive, there is a need to change the current dynamics and make schools safe again. Furthermore, an educationist, Ibrahim Dansa, added that should provide adequate security to schools to assure children of safety when they attend school. He also insisted that the government should demonstrate commitment to protecting the right to education by investigating these attacks and holding those responsible accountable.
Schools are only safe in so far as the larger society is safe. Nigerian policymakers, school leaders, and communities must effectively and creatively come together to help reverse the current economic and education dynamics to avoid a catastrophic collapse. Therefore, “as we celebrate our children today, we must act in their best interests and deploy innovative solutions to fast-track learning and health services to build back better, for every Nigerian child” said Hawkins.