By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
As part of activities to mark the International Children’s Day Of Broadcasting (ICDB) 2021, Center for Media Advocacy for Mother and Child (CAMAC), recently organized a sensitization and awareness meetings with students of two secondary schools in Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria.
The schools are Government Secondary School, Ugwan Baro in Chikun Local Government area and Government Secondary School Kakuri, Kaduna South Local Government area.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Unite to reverse the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children”. The theme highlights the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that all children irrespective of their status and situation should enjoy their rights to Survival and Development as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Child Rights Act (CRA) 2003.
ICDB, is celebrated every first Sunday of March annually.
The day is set aside by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), for a media campaign by children to promote their rights, especially their right to participation by taking charge of broadcasting throughout the day. The Broadcast Media in Nigeria has participated in commemorating the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting since 1992.
However, most children in Nigeria, especially those in rural settings said they are not even aware of the day, talk less of having the opportunity to participate in the celebration, which they blamed on Broadcast organizations for not carrying them along in the celebration that is met for them and also said there are no publicity to let children know about the day.
CAMAC is a media advocacy group that focus on advocating for policies and programmes that favour vulnerable women, adolescent girls and children in areas of education, health, child’s rights, protection, development and survival, while also drawing the attention of government and other stakeholders to their plight, with the view to finding lasting solutions to their problem. As well as creating awareness and sensitizing the public on the above areas.
Before the sensitization and awareness meetings which was facilitated by the NGO’s Program Officer, Christina Alex, CAMAC’s team visited several rural communities in Kaduna to find out if rural children knows about the day and finds that none of the children spoken with ever heard of such day.
The lack of knowledge of ICBD, by the children prompted CAMAC, to organize the meetings so as to enlighten them about the day and most especially provide them an opportunity to talk about some of the challenges they are facing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Talking about the impact of Covid-19, on their lives and education, the children enumerated, domestic violence, drugs abuse, rape, corruption, kidnapping, banditry amongst others which they noted are now on the increase especially during the lockdown as the greatest threat and fears to their future.
17 year old, Miracle Sunday, an SS3 student of Government Secondary School Kakuri, said the world is supposed to be a place filled with good things for children, but that the reverse is now the case as bad events such as corruption, kidnapping, banditry, rape, child labour, domestic violence, etc have taking over, making the future dark for them.
”Some of the challenges in the present world affecting our future today is the high rate of drug abuse among young people, especially since the outbreak of Covid-19 and parents should take responsibility of watching their children and the kind of friends they keep. Likewise teachers should educate children in schools on the dangers of drug abuse. The government should enact laws and ensures they are enforced.
“Also, since COVID-19 pandemic, the price of thing in the market have increased and people find it difficult to buy things in the market like before” He added.
According to Bassil Favour a 12 year old JSS 2 student of Government Secondary School, Ugwan Boro, said what she feared the most about COVID -19 pandemic was the fact that she have been taken back academically.
“It has affected my studies by taking me backward instead of forward. I am suppose to be in JSS 3 but am still in JSS 2. And if you know the number of some of students that were raped and violated during this period, that also has a lots of fears in many of us.” She said.
As for 13yrs old JSS2, Possible Adamu, COVID-19 didn’t just affect their progress in moving to another class, but also pull them a term backwards, saying “we are suppose to be in 2nd term but we are still in 1st term.”
Another student of Government Secondary School Kakuri, Kauna Aminu, 18 who is in her SS3, told CAMAC that, examination malpractice is on the increase since the outbreak of Covid-19, because most children now pay more attention to social media than their books.
“Also COVID-19 has affected the children in the sense that schools were closed down for along time and now that its opened we are expected to cover a year’s syllabus within 3 months. And during the lockdown some young girls were raped and they got pregnant and can’t continue with their education. She added.
17yrs SS3, Felicia Donatus, also of Government Secondary School Kakuri, expresses fear over the insecurity being created by life after school which she said is leading many into crimes and criminality.
According her, “many young people today are unemployed after going through the stress of going to school with the hope of becoming something great in the future, they graduate and become unemployed and this has led to the high rate of kidnapping, stealing, drug abuse, armed robbery. This is discouraging for us that are coming up. It’s making the world to be imbalance.”
For 19yrs Oluwatosin Segun, SS3, GSS, Kakuri, “as a young girl with dreams of becoming an Electrical Engineer, at time I have fear of coming to school, I get scared of being kidnapped like the recent happening in schools within the country. We no longer feel safe in school, place of worship and at home.
“The insecurity is discouraging education. A country cannot be developed without a sound education. We are the future of this country and we need to have our future secured.
“Personally COVID-19 has affected me because I have missed a lot academically and am finding it difficult to assimilate due to the rush work being given to us.
“Even though there was an E-Learning system during the lock down, It was difficult for me to understand the method of teaching done, I could not ask questions during the lesson and at times the phone number given to call are not going through or I don’t have recharge card to call.”
Oluwatosin, therefore appealed to government to provide them with modern books for them to read during their learning processes and also in the libraries. Book that can help them in their various fields.
For Monica Moses, 18, equipping schools laboratories for science practicals at this point would be the best gift from the government, saying “we only get the theory without practical. We don’t know how to carry out scientific experiment and we are preparing for WAEC.
“For us in SSS 3 are almost leaving, the laboratory is not just because of us, but for the benefit of those coming behind us.”
Suaiba Abubakar, 17, also agreed with Monica, saying “sometimes last year our hope was raised to build and renovate our laboratories by a group of people we don’t know who they are but since then we haven’t seen them again.”
Felix Precious, of GSS, Ugwan Boro, want government to build more classrooms so that they can be sitting one per bench to observe the Covid-19 social distance protocol, provide enough hand sanitizers so it could go round and be kept in front of each classroom.
And that someone should be assigned to stand and be dropping the sanitizer on the students hands before allowing them enter the classrooms, as many do not use the sanitizer, adding “they should also bring the vaccine to end this pandemic.
13 years old Jennifer Bitrus in her opinion “government should provide us with more text books so that we can improve in our reading in everyday life since we are backward academically.”
Principals of both schools in their separate remarks expressed their appreciation to the management of CAMAC, for sending a team to sensitized and create awareness among their students and also giving them a voice on issues that is bothering in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Principal GSS Ugwan Boro, Mrs. L.J Gandu, appeal for CAMAC to take the necessary steps to ensure that the government and other civil societies hear and see what children are facing, especially those in public schools so they can come to their aid in order to secure the future of the world which the children represents.