To mark the Day of the African Child, young Nigerian activists, passionate about holding government accountable for the implementation of development projects, petitioned their elected government representatives and policy makers.
The move is aimed at getting the commitment of the policy makers to increase financing for education so children can have access to safe, quality spaces for learning, especially in the remote areas of the country.
One of the activists, 13-year old Asma’u Jita, from Adamawa state, called on the federal government, “to do right by us, children, by prioritising education because basic education is our right.”
On her part, programs manager at Connected Development (CODE), Lucy Abagi, stated that education has been deprioritized by the government and investments in it grossly mismanaged.
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She called on the need for the ministry of education and other relevant government education agencies to tackle the increasing number of children who are not in school, particularly in the north of Nigeria.
“Even the few education facilities in these rural settings are in deplorable conditions - dilapidated structures, no libraries, congested classrooms with poor ventilation, damaged or no furniture, causing pupils to sit on classroom floors - further discouraging children from attending school,” Abagi lamented.
Supported by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the activists from Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, called for improved school infrastructure, a massive enrollment campaign to bring all children to school, and targeted investments to ensure an uninterrupted 12 years of schooling, for girls especially.
They also urged the government to increase education budgetary allocation by 10% and advocated for proper utilization of funds for the improvement of education infrastructures, deployment and provision of incentives for teachers especially female teachers and the deployment of 1000 qualified teachers per year, particularly to rural areas, where they are most needed.
Day of the African Child draws attention to the plight and unfortunate conditions of millions of marginalised children especially in the remote areas of Africa - marginalised by culture, tradition, religion and ultimately poverty.
According to UNICEF, out of 57 million primary school age children currently out of school around the world, over half are from sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, an International Non-Governmental Organization, Search for Common Ground (SFCG), has announced plans to establish peace and security clubs in primary and secondary schools in northern Nigeria as part of efforts to tackle insecurity particularly religious crises in the region.
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The senior project coordinator with SFCG, Ms. Fatima Madaki, who disclosed this in Abuja at a high level technical meeting on Advancing Religious Tolerance (ART38) in Nigeria, said the aim is to advance peace education especially among the younger generation.
Madaki further said the ATR38 project is focused on issues around religious tolerance and how to fine tune peace messages to specific target audiences.
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