Since 1990, African Union (AU) formerly Organisation of African Union (OAU) had set aside June 16 of every year to celebrate the African Child. The decision was taken in the commemoration of innocent children who lost their lives in Soweto in the heat of Apartheid struggle in South Africa back in 1976.
It is in line with this that Connected Development [CODE] had collaborated with other Civil Society Organisations such as Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All (CSACEFA), Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YISHDA), A World At School Global Youth Ambassadors, Save The Children and development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) among others to mark this special day, yesterday in Abuja.
The event was used to reflect on the myriad of challenges confronting the girl child in Nigeria particularly in giving these children required education and better future. Numerous challenges such as child marriage, genital mutilation, poverty, absence of child right, lack of qualitative education for girl child among others were discussed by the major stakeholders at the event.
One of the burning issues, is the recent Sexual Offence Bill which was amongst the Bills passed within 48 hours by the Senate in the last Administration which however still awaits the Presidential Assent, formed part of the questions raised by the young persons present at the event. Expressing their disapproval of the clause which legalises 11 year old girl to be given out for marriage thereby truncating her educational pursuit and dreams.
Addressing the major challenge of falling standard of education for younger persons at the event was Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Representative, Mr Mansur Saudu who was bombarded with a various questions by participants on low performance of education sector in Nigeria. He said UBEC is just an Agency working according to the dictates of Federal Ministry of Education. “You need to understand that we cannot function without the dictates from the Federal level” he affirmed. We know there are challenges confronting girl child education in Nigeria particularly in the up North, where early child marriage is more prevalent but we are working to educate them on the danger it poses for their future and the nation as a whole.
Ojonwa Miachi, Policy Advisor, CODE who was the lead convener of the event said as an Education Activist, all hands must be on the deck to support and protect the rights of girl child to education. “They are not just pieces of gift that should be given away to older men at their prime, they have the right to bright future just like every other child in the world” she alluded.
Photos at the event