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The Nigerian child: our future Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by fatoki taiye timmy, Nigeria Feb 3, 2009
Human Rights   Opinions
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Though education is an enabling right of every human, which open doors to other rights. Unfortunately, in Nigeria children (orphaned and vulnerable children-disabled children) are the hardest hit in terms of deprivation of their right to quality universal basic education. Despite its recognition as a pivotal for national development, governments at various levels of governance have continually ignored the importance of quality education in the life of the Nigerian child and the community as a whole. As it is today, various evidence has shown that lack of and inadequate access to basic quality education exposes individuals to greater risk of poverty and ill-health.
In Nigeria, the 2003 Child Rights Act signed into law by the federal government is to see to the protection of the rights of the Nigerian child irrespective of physical or/and mental functions. The article 1 which is about Right to life encourages government to develop policies and programmes for child survival, protection and development. This is fully backed by Article 7 and 8 which ensures that the Nigerian child’s right to quality education and good health care is protected. It clearly stated that government should make basic education compulsory and free for all, as well as encourage equal access to education for all section of the society including children with disability.
According to the former Governor Bank of England-Lord George, “Education is the absolute foundation of social and economic progress, not just for the children involved but for our whole national and global community, therefore it makes good economic sense for governments to invest in basic education.” If the word of Lord Geroge makes sense to the global community, then our children‘s access to quality education should be a top priority. The nation must ensure their accessibility to quality education, and not make them to suffer unduly and unwarrantedly from problems created by the older generation.
Although Nigeria has a national policy on education since 1981, which recognizes equal educational opportunities for all citizens, but like many African countries with same recognitions of the educational policy, its implementation has neither been effective nor result oriented in terms of service delivery, as a result of rapid population growth, insufficient political will, undemocratic governance, poor management of scarce resources and changes in education administration and style. For example it is saddening to see that the 2007 state of the world’s annual report on the conditions of children worldwide by UNICEF titled women and children the double dividend of gender equality, shows starkly in figures what harm gender inequality (as related to education) is doing to children and how it is also hindering the realization of the MDGs.
The girl child and the disabled children in most cases are more likely to be out of school. (For every 100 boys out of school, more girls are likely to be out of school). These girls and the disabled children are more prone to encounter more problems as they grow. Avoidable problems face them on a daily basis as result of their lack of access to at least quality basic education; They face daily genital mutilation, child marriage (child- mother and other problems related to early child birth), sexual abuse, exploitation (exposing them to reproductive and sexual infections including HIV/AIDS) and child trafficking etc thereby retarding developmental progress in our community. This has resulted in governments diverting budgetary allowances which could have been used for other developmental into solving problems that could have been solved tangibly by education.We,as parents must ensure that our children attend school, and encourage government to wake up to their responsibilities. By holding them accountable for every penny allocated, spent and unspent.
Even the child rights act signed into law by the federal governments of Nigeria is yet to be fully functional, also the implementation and enforcement of the CRA in the states of the federation is slowly functional, and the contents of the CRA has not been made known to majority of the populace, so as to know what constitutes an offence and the punishment involved in the developmental training of the Nigerian child. The judicial arm of government as well as the police force is yet to be fully conscientised on the CRA, making enforcement and implementation of the CRA difficult. Though signed into law by less than twelve states of the federation (out of thirty six states!), its proper implementation and functionality remained to be seen in the face of aforementioned challenges. Perhaps the federal government of Nigeria should make it mandatory for all states to domesticate, enforce and implement the CRA in their various states.

We, as citizens of Nigeria must demand for quality education for our children, and teach them how to safeguard their present and future by empowering them on self sufficiency, self reliance and rights protection and claims. It will help them to demand from the government what rightly belongs to them and rebuff all attempts of our leaders and their accomplices abroad to enrich themselves and embezzle resources meant for the present and future generations.

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Writer Profile
fatoki taiye timmy

Fatoki Taiye Timmy is a graduate of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Where He was a Student union leader, advocating for a better welfare for the Nigerian students, and seeking a brighter future for the nation’s young people, especially with regards to information on how students welfare are carried out. Fatoki Taiye Timmy is a follower of young people, he has led them in various capacities including being the chairman of the Best supporters Club [De-whoops] in any Nigerian University. Since leaving the university, and serving the nation through the one year compulsory youth service scheme [NYSC], he has been involved in outreaches, trainings and program implementation in adolescent reproductive and sexual health, STIs/HIV and AIDS and integrated youth development, including entrepreneurial /skills development for youth. These have earned him skills and experiences in health and youth development project design, implementation and design.
He has been working with youth-led and youth focused organizations focusing on sexuality health, child rights [especially the girl and the differently able child] and youth development in Nigeria, using rights based approaches through advocacy, sensitization, training and policy participation and related integrated approaches. As a result of his campaign at the national level for a better deal for the Nigerian youth/child-focusing on health, youth in community development [through participation and involvement], leadership development, volunteering, civic education and the rights of the Nigerian child, he was selected to take part in capacity building for youths involved in human/child rights issues in Nigeria [2003] representing the interest of the Nigerian child, reviewing the human rights of the Nigerian child for the better , sponsored by OSIWA west Africa.
Fatoki Taiye Timmy is a two times national Essay and Arts awards winner. He was also part of the final drafting of the Nigerian Youth Policy agenda in 2004, which is a document policy that takes full responsibility for the development of the Nigerian youth. In the same year Fatoki Taiye Timmy was chosen as a supervisor of the Nigerian National Youth Exchange between the southwest and north central states of Nigeria.An experienced child/youth Rights Advocate; a former senator of the National Association of Nigerian students –NANS [Africa’s largest association], and a two time national Essay and Art Award winner, Fatoki Taiye Timmy is a member of various youth coalitions and network at the national, regional and global level. Based on his experience and good knowledge of the issues affecting the African child, He has presented papers on the challenges face by children in the third world countries and the influence of global politics at both national [at various youth fora and higher institutions of learning] and international scene, most notably at the Voices of Africa-Voices of Resistance international conference at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and the G8 ALTERNATIVES summit held at the University of Aberdeen, also in the United Kingdom in the year 2005.He has also worked with some state’s children’s parliament to provide a better avenue for their advocacy on improving the child’s rights through better state legislation and adherence to policy formulated. With memorandum presented in two states house of assembly [Osun and Nasarawa state, Nigeria] in protection of the Nigerian child with references to various international treaties signed by the country that guarantees such rights, one state [Nasarawa state] has since signed it into a bill, while it’s in progress in Osun state.
Fatoki Taiye Timmy was a Project Supervisor for an International Youth exchange between Nigeria and the United Kingdom [Global Xchange], supported by the British Council, Voluntary Service Overseas and Life Vanguards.
Fatoki Taiye Timmy is a Program officer [Integrated youth development] Life Vanguards and the Editor Youth Alive magazine respectively. A foundation member of the of the Nigerian youth Social forum, of which one of our aims is to make sure that all Nigerian youths/child have the basic leadership training needed to become an effective leader through total youth development and participation. He is an Alumnus of the Africa Leadership forum Otta.FAtoki taiye Timmy is also Development analyst for the African Regional Initiative.
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