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CRC@30: Nigerian children lament state of education, health

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By Chioma Obinna

Thirty years after Nigeria has ratified and pledged to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC,  a group of Nigerian children has decried the state of education and healthcare in Nigeria, calling on government at all levels to urgently improve access to quality education and health.

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Taking turns to speak during a UNICEF supported youth dialogue in Lagos  weekend as  part of activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC@30, tagged “#Naija Youth Talk – Lagos Edition” , the children called for urgent attention to education and healthcare as part of strategies to provide safer environment for them.

The live stream programme which held at the NG_HUB Facebook Nigeria, Yaba Lagos gathered  60 children & youths with breakout stations talking about   Skill Development & Employability, Education and  Health, challenges and the Nigeria they want to see in these areas.

Speaking on his group, one of the participants, Master Onche Samuel, regretted that most Nigerian parents do not care about the feelings of the children but are only want the children to focus on their own decisions or passion.

According to Samuel, the current environment in Nigeria was not conducive for students to learn especially with inadequate facilities, equipment and teacher.

“Whenever you hear the name public school, the first thing that comes to your minds is one broken window, children sitting at the window, children are sitting on the ground, no quality education.

“I will also plead with the government to build quality healthcare centres in rural areas because most rural dwellers spend all their savings just to receive healthcare services in town. For Nigeria to achieve sustainable development goals(goal 3), there must be good health for all citizens irrespective of their location.”

He further urged governments to be steadfast and address the issue of quality education in Nigeria.

On her part, Nmesoma Okonkwo, who represented her group identified lack of supports and funding as factors hindering youths from taking up skills acquisition.

Okonkwo challenged governments and parents to encourage their children and “raise next generations of creative thinkers providing innovative solutions’’.

In what seems like a response to the of the children, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo said the state government was working assiduously to improve education in the state by focusing on government technical colleges, values and character-based education.

Stating that the government was currently investing in teachers and repairing of infrastructure in schools. , she said “We know the schools are falling into a state of disrepair and he’s taking significant care of that and giving them the resources they need to run their schools.

“We are going to invest in teachers because many schools don’t have enough, so we are going to train them and keep on training them; we are also going to look at the curriculum to know what they are learning. We are going to focus on our government technical colleges, values and character-based education to ensure school make sense for the students.

“The government of Lagos state is concerned about education. “We have increased the budget and we are putting in more money to improve education; we are addressing the infrastructure in the schools for education development. We are recruiting teachers now and we are also looking at the curriculum to look into what they are learning as regards value.”

She advised the youths to excel in their endeavours.

Speaking, Officer in Charge, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Lagos Field Office, Mr Muhammad Okorie explained that the gathering was to advance the rights of the child.  According to him, it is the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“It has been 30 years since after its adoption. “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most ratified UN Treaty and has played a central role to improve the lives of children around the world.

“In our midst are young people talking about issues affecting them. We have youths across all segments come today and tell us issues facing them.

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Okorie said: “Children are very informed; the technology interventions have made children make decisions. They know more than us and they are in the best situation to tell us what they want. They   discussed health, education, skill development and employability.’

He explained that the ideas generated would be disseminated and tracked. “All the beautiful ideas that will be generated today will be taken further than this place.“Technology has made things so easy for us.  The children are looking at SDGs themselves and looking at how it affects them, we are going to give an additional voice to it. We will ensure to take notes of their views and will ensure they are integrated into core planning of policies,’’ he said.

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