Andy Esiet , Calabar
Parents and teachers in Cross River state have called on the Federal Government to make education compulsory to the poor, to the needy and even to the aged in the country so as to check harmful practices against children in the society.
In commemorating Day of the African Child with theme “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”, an annual event UNICEF, government, media and CSOs commemorate around the globe to advocate for child’s rights and give visibility to the 1976 uprising in Soweto, South Africa, they said the government at both the federal and state levels should take case children seriously and ensure good education, stop early marriage, genital mutilation, child labour and others.
The head teacher of Government Primary School, Ekorinim, Calabar, Mrs Asuquo Nse Okon said “ways of preventing this, especially in girl child, is that a girl should have 100% education so that they care of themselves and also have the knowledge so that such things will not happen to them. Another way of preventing it is women empowerment. Like now in this political era, women should be given chance to be President, Governors…the ultimate solution is to send children to school and make education compulsory to the poor, to the needy and even to the aged, they can go to adult education and learn how to read and write.
She said “female genital mutilation should be wiped out completely especially when the girls are at the age of getting married, when they get married and they are under pregnancy, to give birth will be difficult because their vagina will be injured and this will bring diseases, so it should be stopped and wiped out completely in Nigeria.
Many people are still doing it. The uneducated people are still doing it but the educated one that know that this practice is harmful especially to girl children are not doing it again.
“Educating the men is also very important. If the men are educated, they willnot do it to their children. If you see in our society today, educated parents don’t send their children to go and hawk. Exposing this children to hawking may cause harm. Kidnapping now is everywhere. As the child is hawking, car can run him/her over especially this tinted cars…Security should be tight in every nooks and corners of each state.
Mrs Okon commended UNICEF for the good work they are doing, saying, “if they should continue like this I don’t think this children will be wayward. Come 2023 if these children are helped by UNICEF to train them, encourage them, educate them not to be wayward children, I hope Nigeria in 2023 will be better. They should continue with the programme of moving round not only in schools, they should go to market square, churches because some people are there in the market Square and other places to preach the message ” .
A parent, Mr. Edim Ita said the so-called “skolombo” (street children” said, “most of those children are not skolombo. One, poverty brings about it. If a mother has more than six children and cannot take care of all of them, maybe eating three square meal a day is difficult, some of those children pick irons to go and sell just to make ends meet.
“The most important thing government should do for these children is call them together and empower them. If government can send them to go and learn skills acquisition centre to learn and do something with their hands, I don’t think they’ will be going around the streets. Like the Garment factory in calabar established by the state government, some of them can be sent there”
On its part, the State Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mr. Benedict Okache said the Chapter organised a programme for children with the theme: “Children and Education in Modern Day”, a flagship programme for career orientation, “with the aim to first broaden the career horizons of school children in Senior Secondary Schools one and two and secondly, to educate on the dangers of engaging in social vices such as substance abuse, internet fraud, cultism, among others” .
Congratulating the 142 participants from 13 schools for taking part in this year’s event, Okache admonished them to take the program seriously as the knowledge and experience gathered, will not only be beneficial to them but can impact greatly on their contemporaries. He further urged them to keep raising their academic excellence bar.