By Peter Duru
Makurdi – The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has lamented that parents are terrified to send their children to school due to insecurity in the country especially for girl children, who have been the victim of kidnapping while at school.
This was made known by Mr. Geoffrey Njoku the UNICEF Communication Specialist, in a statement on behalf of Mr. Peter Kawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria to mark this year’s Day of the African Child themed ‘Child Rights in all Situations, Including During Humanitarian Crises.
He said in commemorating the day “about 2000 youth across 10 Nigerian states including Abuja presented petitions to their governors, parliamentarians, policymakers and other influential persons in a mass effort to draw attention to the need to act on commitments to increasing access to safe, quality education for all children, especially girls.
“The Nigerian campaign for access to quality education will hold the newly-elected government officials at all levels accountable for their campaign promises 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.
“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.
“The youth actions we are seeing today across several states is a wakeup call for leaders to act on their commitments to provide quality education for all children, in all situations.”
Continuing, he said, “the engagement seeks to secure commitments from national and state governments to prioritize 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% increase in budgetary allocation and release of funds for education, with 50 percent of the total budget to basic education, recruitment, deployment and provision of incentives for 1000 female teachers per year and recruitment and deployment of 1000 qualified teachers per year, especially to rural areas, where they are most needed.