Child Rights @30: The demands of improved healthcare, education
As Nigeria joins the world to mark the anniversary of the Child Right Convention, CRC @30, young persons has demanded for improved healthcare, education across board from the Federal government.
The youths said, for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs by 2030, the government must ensure to create opportunities needed for young persons to develop in a safe environment.
Speaking during a youth dialogue supported by United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, in Lagos State, some young persons who spoke under the Naija Youth Talk demands the government take action in order to see the country of their dreams.
On health, Mmesoma Okonkwo, who spoke, lamented how difficult it is in accessing healthcare in the rural areas where health seekers travel long distances to reach health centre as well as pay exorbitant amount for treatment."
She however calls on the government to build health centres that are closer to the people which will make it easier to receive quality healthcare services.
She further called on private sectors to use their platforms to educate young people as well as support good health provision which is also a part of SDGs.
A youth representative who spoke on education, Onche Samuel said, "i thank the government for what they have done, but we still have a long to go as a country. Look at the public schools, whenever you hear the name public school, the first thing that comes to your mind is; one broken window, children sitting on the window, sitting on the ground, and no quality education.
"But funny enough in England, people pay more money to attend public schools than private schools because public school are better with more equipments than private schools, but that is not how it is in Nigeria."
He also urged the government to be steadfast, buckle up and oppose any issue affecting quality education in Nigeria, adding that they can do better if they work together.
On skills acquisition, Angela Olanrewaju said, such is not given value in Nigeria, calling for the introduction of extra curriculum activities in schools to give avenue for students to learn other things aside conventional subjects like English and Mathematics which will help them become self-employed wherever they find themselves.
Olanrewaju, also advised that government should put skill acquisition in place, and flayed the sponsorship of Big Brother Naija by some actors in private sector.
He reasoned, rather than fund projects like Big Brother Naija where young people are housed three months and at the end of the day the winner goes home with N60 million, the money should be channeled to provide meaningful skilled acquisition for them
"What advantage does that have on Nigerians? The private sector should be involved in what will actually help the society. Please what happened to Nigerian Idol? These things will actually encourage youths by boosting our talents."
The government should provide more opportunities for young people to develop their skills which in turn leverages them to more job opportunities for their teeming population.
Speaking at the event, Commissioner of Education, Lagos State, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, said, "Every child is a leader. Often, I tell them not to wait till tomorrow to be the leader because leadership starts now."
Adefisayo said that, the government of Lagos State wants to have a look at the infrastructure and work towards repairing many schools in the state. "We know that many of the schools are in a dilapidated state, the governor is working towards that."
The commissioner also said the state is going to invest on recruitment of teachers, the process is ongoing, stressing that many schools in the state don't have enough teachers. "So we are going to train new teachers and keep on training the previous teachers as well."
She added that the school’s curriculum will also be looked at to know exactly what the students are learning as the focus will be on the technical knowledge, values and character-based education.
Stressing that the state will ensure that the schools are of good standard, she observed that the resources of the state cannot serve the purpose. She therefore called on partners to assist the state in achieving this.
Also speaking, UNICEF Officer in Charge of Lagos State Field Office, Muhammad Okorie, said "We are happy at UNICEF that the Convention on the Right of the Child is 30 years, so we are celebrating that and then in the midst of the celebration we have this opportunity where young people have been empowered to speak on issues concerning them.
"Young people are here today to tell us issues as they affect them and then also proffer solutions because the world we live today is different from the world we lived yesterday or the ones our grandparents lived.
"Children are very informed now, the technological advancement and everything happening around us has really empowered children to the extent that they can actually take decisions that affect themselves. They know issues the way they are and is no longer the time the older generation should think they know better in the issues that affects children.
"The children has told us how they feel about the healthcare delivery in Nigeria, education situation in Nigeria, employability and skills. These are the three key areas they have discussed. The children has told us how the issues are, what they feel about them and their own suggestion on omnibus we can make things better.
"Naija Youth Talk is viewed live and people are watching it from all over the world both government, private sector organisations, development partners, UNICEF and others are also listening to the children, so that key policy makers now take into cognizance what these children say to redesign their programmes.
Speaking on the right of the child, Founder of Slum2School Africa, Mr Orandaam Otto said, "First it's good to state that Nigeria is a great country and beyond that, we have great resources and most of these resources are beneath the soil, but our greatest resource is our human capital.
"We are 200 million Nigerians and the data also tells us that we are the fastest growing nation in the world at the growth rate of 2. 4 percent which means that within the next 30 years before the year 2050, we are going to have a population of 400 billion people making us the third most populous people in the world.
"So what investment are we putting in the lives of these young people, what kind of education are they getting, what kind of job are they getting, are the jobs accessible?" Otto said.
Founder of Slum2School Africa pointed that Nigeria has 13 million children who are out of school; those who are in school what is the quality of the education? He asked, adding "that most time teachers are the cause, but poor curriculum, poor infrastructure begins with the government and the kind of policies they make give rise to this."
He stated, " In Nigeria, to study medicine, to get an admission through JAMB, you need a score of 240, 250 260, 280, while in some schools to study engineering you need 220, 230 and 250 in some schools. To study Law and Accounting, you need 200 and above, but if you want to go to college of education you need a JAMB score of 100 and three credit units.
"So, it tells you that the people who were not able to get medicine or engineering, accounting may eventually settle to become teachers and go into the classrooms to teach children when they are the ones that need to be taught."
Otto added that, in some countries before you become a teacher you must be among the best in your school and with a master’s degree, but in Nigeria schools, it is different.
He said, where we are supposed to put best human resource is in our early child development centres from nursery, kindergarten, but we have relegated it to the background.
According to him, it is high time the government started seeing education as an investment, because when you invest a million naira today on a child through education, three years from now, the profit will be more than what you will get in petroleum resources.
He said, "It’s important we paint the picture of our educational system, so that people can understand the urgent need to invest in the sector. If we invest in children, it will be a good opportunity and if we do contrary it will be a threat."
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