As part of activities to commemorate “Day of the African Child”, Kaduna State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, on Friday organized a public lecture for school children in the State, to raise awareness about their rights and to reflect on their situation.
In her address, the Women Affairs Commissioner, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, advocates for responsible child upbringing by parents and caregivers, she also harps on the need to continue to improve the education of the African child and to encourage well spirited individuals to abundantly share something special with a child in Africa.
Hajiya Hafsat, raised pertinent questions on the situation of children in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, saying, “how are our children faring socially? What is the education status of our children today? How are we, adults measuring up to our responsibilities on our children?
“How are we protecting the rights of our children today? We could go on and on and on and on, the questions are endless and each, begging for answers. In being modest, we should not even attempt to give answers to these many questions on the situation of our children today.”
The Commissioner who was not satisfied with the way the African child is being treated, added, “we, as adults have failed in many fronts in the responsibilities of bringing up and protecting our children. The African Child today can never measure up with his/her peers in other climes.
“They are the most educationally retrogressed lot, abused by the society at the slightest instance, neglected to self-sustenance in their minor times and invariably broken in soul and spirit. Story of the African Child today is gory, filled with deliberate abandonment which can best be described as arrested development. A lot of us parents, leaders and institution drivers have repeatedly failed on the overall in our prime and divinely ordained responsibility of sane child upbringing.
“In Kaduna state today, our climate is dominated by a stampede of unfortunate child related cases and institutions that are saddled with the responsibility of managing same are inundated with these unfortunate numbers. In the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for instance, we are daily overwhelmed by these cases.
“Adult to minor rape, child abandonment, juvenile issues, forced child marriages to mention but a few of the cases are daily reported to us and the number of those unrecorded can best be imagined. The kind of heinous crimes and oppression meted our children is simply unimagined.”
She however, said that the present Kaduna state administration is diligently working to change the narrative by putting credence to the Child Right Act, saying “we are hoping that its coming into law would provide us that needed vigor to deal with child related issues conclusively.
“I want to call on all adults in Kaduna state and the nation as a whole to give added attention and avail timely response to protecting especially education, moral discipline, health, sanitation and nutritional needs of our children. This forms the core in delivery of our Godly ordained responsibilities on children. It is noteworthy however, that His Excellency, our Governor, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufa’I has taken the lead in this line with introduction of free and compulsory basic education for our children, the school feeding and uniform provision program in our schools. This is in addition to the introduction and promulgation of child friendly policies of the government directly and indirectly.”
She commented the collaborative efforts of her ministry’s partners, like the Ministry of Health and Human Services, Ministry of Education. And the timely strategic support of their development partners such as UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, Save the Children etc, and security agencies in the state.
In his goodwill message, Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rabiu Musa, explained that despite important education gains in recent decades, Nigeria, still has the largest number of girls not in school.
According to him, over 10 million Nigerian children are out of school. He added, “When girls enter school, a vast majority of them do not complete primary school education. The average girl stays in school only through age nine. Less than one-third of girls in Nigeria enrol in the lower secondary school, and, in northern Nigeria, less than one in 10 girls generally complete secondary education.”
Rabiu, told the gathering that, “as Africa celebrates the Day of the African Child today, UNICEF in partnership with Federal Ministry of Education and State Universal Basic Education Boards in Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states, launch the Girls for Girls (G4G) initiative.
“The Theme for this year is: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity.
“With today’s commemoration of the Day of the African Child focusing on empowerment and equal opportunity for the African child, the launch is timely especially for the girl child whose fortunes are not nearly as bright as for boys.
“The primary goal of G4G is to empower girls with knowledge, skills and confidence needed to enroll and remain in school, completing the full course of education so they can be role models to other girls in their communities.”
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