On the 27th of May 2022, Nigeria celebrated Children’s Day to strengthen protection and preservation of children’s right to education and other basic necessities of life.
The United Nations General Assembly, on November 20, 1954 adopted the declaration of the rights of children, and thus, declared the day as an “International Children and Youths Day.” However, member countries were left to mark the day on different dates as may be convenient for them. In Nigeria, it is observed annually on 27th of May.
The theme for this year’s Children’s Day celebration is, “Strengthening Supportive Systems for the Protection of the Nigerian Child; A Wake Up Call.” This theme challenges the relevant authorities to put in place the necessary mechanisms that will enhance the protection of children in Nigeria.
As such, parents and other critical stakeholders have stressed the need for a comprehensive Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy which should apply to all members of staff, board of trustees, volunteers, parents, students or anyone working on behalf of schools.
They also called on all 2023 general elections aspirants to entrench issues of Nigerian children welfare and education in their overall plans for provision of democracy dividends to the citizens.
The National President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) Chief Yomi Otubela advocated for a child protection policy that would be applied to all members of staff, board of trustees, volunteers, parents, students or anyone working on behalf of schools. He urged school owners to, as a matter of priority, develop child protection policies in schools in line with the recommendations from the appropriate authority.
“It is also important to ensure appropriate action is taken in the event of incidents/concerns of abuse, and that support is provided to the individual or individuals who raise or disclose the concern; ensure that confidential, detailed and accurate records of all safeguarding concerns are maintained and securely stored and prevent the employment/deployment of unsuitable individuals.
“Furthermore, we encourage home-school collaboration as further measures to protect learners and safeguard their rights.”
An International human rights lawyer, Professor Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, urged the political elites to reflect and empathise with children.
“As Nigeria marks (27 May 2022) Children’s Day, I dare ask what the future holds for our dear children in a turbulent country like ours?
“I urge the political elites in particular as they jostle for power, which has become the swift means to become rich and important in Nigeria, to deeply reflect and empathise with children – the future generation that would be impacted by their actions and decisions.
“Think about the children’s future and act always in their best interests.”