The African child & right to education
Special discussion on the education of the Nigerian child
In 1996, Nigeria submitted its first report on implementation of the Child Rights convention to the United States Commission on the rights of the child. One of the major recommendations made by the committee then was to finally ensure that domestication of the child rights convention is fully implemented. A first Bill on Nigerian Child Rights had already been submitted in 1993 but could not be passed into law by the military government because of opposition from religious groups and traditionalists. Special committee was set up to harmonize the Bill with the interests of religious and customary beliefs.
Finally, the Nigeria Child Acts arrived in September 2003. Nevertheless, very few states had domesticated the Child Rights Act.
These were the opening comments from Wemimo Adewuni on Morning Crossfire.
Fortunately, as Sherif Quadri remarked, Sunday, June 16, is a dedicated day for the humanitarian theme for the children of Africa. It was first aside by the African Unity organization and in 1991 by African Union organization in honor of those killed in South Africa.
The Soweto uprising was a series of demonstrations and protests led by black school children in South Africa that began on the morning of 16 June 1976. The children marched and called for equality of education and to be taught in their own mother tongue.
Students from numerous Sowetan schools began to protest in the streets of Soweto in response to the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools. It is estimated that 20,000 students took part in the protests. They were met with fierce police brutality. The number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 have been made. In remembrance of these events, 16 June is now a public holiday in South Africa, named Youth Day.
Quadri also commented that till now, these setbacks still bedevil the African child. For example, he said the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is over 10.2 million. It means that one in every five of out-of-school children is from Nigeria.
Social Worker, Lawyer, Taiwo Akinlami, was a guest on the show and while responding to the statistics said that it is due to failure by government to plan.
“When a nation does not plan, we meet ourselves here,” he said. According to a UNESCO report to which Akinlami alluded, more than 13 million Nigerian children are out of school. Under President Goodluck Jonathan, it was 10.5 million children out of school in Nigeria. Now, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. According to Akinlami, fifty percent of all children out of school worldwide are from Nigeria.
“When you look at Adamawa, Bauchi, and other North-East states, most of these states have been ravaged by Boko Haram. So children in those places are not only out of school but displaced. Some are also in IDP camps, malnourished and suffer other health challenges.
“On May 27, World Health Organization released a report that over forty children are still malnourished and they could die of malnutrition. The theme of this year: “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children's Rights First” cannot be more apt because this is the right time to call attention to the needs of the African child."
Akinlami further states that Nigerians are yet to understand the role of the Nigerian child in national development. According to Mandela, children are the pivotal link between the present and the future. We don’t yet understand that a nation that starves its children starves its future. A nation that starves the future in essence starves its realities.
“There are those who are rich and astute parents in Nigeria, who live in places like Magodo or Banana Island, Ikoyi, and have children who are not really Nigerians because they carry two passports: One is Nigerian while the other is foreign. The people who are poor in Nigeria are denied of rights, denied of education, even though chapter two of the Nigerian constitution says every Nigerian child has a right to education to higher institutional level. That chapter also said that the welfare of every citizen is the primary aim of the government. So when we look at the commission and omission of government, we should ask ourselves; is the government actually conforming to the rules of the constitution?
“Once government fails to recognize and fully implement its aims regarding the citizen that is where lack of patriotism comes into play. When children don’t feel any impact from the country where they are, they fail to grow up been patriotic to the country where they were born.”
Journalist, Policy and Development Expert, Rotimi Sankore added that government is not doing its best in taking care of the Nigerian child. He blamed not just the present government but also the previous governments for the neglect of the Nigerian child.
“If the previous government had done its own part, we won’t have the numbers of children out of school such as we have it now. If this government does not solve the problem, future governments will also carry the can for them. When you look at things like this, you also get to look at the budget which is a statement of priorities. The question is; do the federal and state government budgets show that government prioritizes children? The answer is no. The evidence underlines this clearly. If you look at key areas where children’s rights and development have been undermined or violated, such as health, one sees that close to a million Nigerian children die before the age of five, every year. These are known as under-5 mortality.
“One of the main reason this happens is poor nutrition. That is made worse by other factors such as lack of clean water, lack of appropriate vitamins and minerals, no access to necessary vaccination. These children even if they survive may have the cognition of a child who although grown have the ability of children.
“I’m yet to see from any state government a clear budget line for early childhood. That is the basis for failure. When we talk about the out-of-school children, it is not a sole problem of the federal government but also that of the states.”
THE AFRICAN CHILD & RIGHT TO EDUCATION
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo(@wemimospot) & Sheriff (@SheriffQuadry) alongside Journalist, Policy and Development Expert Rotimi Sankore (@RotimiSankore)