The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria to mainstream child rights curriculum to protect rights of children and improve their outcome.
This is just as the UNICEF has rolled out a five-year programme (2023-2027) aimed at ensuring the survival, development of the Nigerian child and protect them from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.
Juliet Chiluwe, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Enugu, applauded the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka Anambra State for taking the first step to further mainstream child rights curriculum by electing the Child Rights Reporting Curriculum (CRRC) as a general studies course, making it compulsory for in-school mass communicators. She urged other partnering Universities and communication institutions to emulate the feat as recorded by NAU in the interest of fostering child rights reportage in Nigeria.
Chiluwe said this known at a two-day Training of Trainers (TOT) on
and media dialogue organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF in Enugu.
She noted that a broad range of abuses against children emanates from ignorance of what constitutes child’s right. She enthused that the workshop will broaden the scope of knowledge and exposure of the communication students and practitioners of Mass Communication by way of infusion of the Child Rights concerns, which are also topical concerns for human development.
Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF communication specialist, speaking at the workshop, said that too many Nigerian children are still left behind, adding that the programme will focus majorly on the vulnerable and marginalised children to improve their outcome.
Njoku, explained that the country programme of the UNICEF will cover four major components to include child survival in terms of health, nutrition, water and sanitation; basic education; child protection; social policy and gender equality.
He decried that Nigeria is still home to the highest number of out-of-school children, as an estimated 26. 5 percent of primary school age children are not in formal school of which 60 percent are girls. He added that high levels of violence and abuse against children in Nigeria is on the rise, including recruitment by non-state armed groups.
“Infant and under-five mortality rates in Nigeria are among the highest in the world with large disparities across the country. 14 million stunted children, the second highest number in the world. Malnutrition has moved higher, almost one in five girls aged 15-19 years suffer form acute malnutrition, that’s the trend now,” Njoku further said.
Amidst these, the communication specialist expressed concerns that Nigeria’s population is on the rise which could further worsen the already poor indices. He equally noted that the government-funded social protection systems is limited, reaching only a fraction of the poor and vulnerable, an estimated 10.4 percent of teh population.
The Communication Officer further explained that UNICEF aims at changing persistent gender inequalities, insufficient government expenditure that leads to out-of-pocket expenditure and limitations in state and local government human resource capacity.
He added that the UNICEF will strengthen systems at national and sub-national levels to eliminate poverty, malnutrition, ensure education, protect children; support the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance; engage with the private sector, among others.