By Mary Agidi
November 20 is a day set aside by the United Nations, UN, to celebrate universal day of children.
It is aimed to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. It is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights.
The purpose of this day is to draw the attention of government, teachers, parents and guardians to the importance of children and the need to cater for them by protecting their interests.
According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), every year, millions of children around the world become victims of untold violence. Children in every country, every culture and at every social level face various forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. The abuse takes place at home, in school, in institutions, at work, in the community, in armed conflict and natural disasters, hence the need for this day to create awareness against such acts.
On this year’s celebration, in order to give our children a sense of belonging and to exercise their right to expression, The Hope spoke with a cross section of school children of ages six to fifteen in Akure, the Ondo State capital to hear their views and bring their plight about Nigeria to the limelight.
In a chat with Sarah Ibietan Oluwagbemisola, an SSS1 student of Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, Akure, she expressed her mind on what she desires for Nigeria’s children. She said, ” I want government to provide free and quality education because we children are the future of Nigeria. Government should please provide educational equipment because most of government’s schools do not have equipment. Government should provide jobs for our people in this country, bad roads increase accident day by day, people are dying as a result of bad roads, so government should provide good roads for us because it is the citizens that vote for the leaders. They should reduce corruption in this country.
“Our parents too should encourage their children to go to school, they should not maltreat us because most parents maltreat their children too much by sending them to hawk day by day and will they not go to school and become illiterate at the end”. To her children mates, she advised that ” we the children should read our books because we have a great future ahead of us, pray everyday, listen to our parents because the Bible encourages children to obey their parents if they want to live long on earth “.
Oluwole Emmanuel Olayinka is a JSS 1 student of Oyemekun Grammar School Akure. He expressed his desire for Nigeria thus : “what I want Nigeria’s government to do for children is to provide free education for students, and supply adequate books and text books freely”.
As for Ajayi Gabriel Ayomide from Ijapo High School, Akure, JSS 1 precisely, he said “government should provide free education and take care of children like UNICEF. ( What is UNICEF? asked the interviewer). Ayomide replied, “caring for children “, government should give children good health and education.
Daniel Fasasi, a primary six pupil of Oasis Kiddies School Akure said “What I want the government to do for children is that they should stop children that are sent to hawk in the market and also give children a better education, all those that do not have jobs, they should create companies to make people have jobs. Parents should educate them, give them good clothes and satisfy them with what they want “.
Asuquo Rachel from Ijapo High School said, “I want government to provide good things for the children”.
On his own, Isaac Ibietan Oluwabukola, a JSS 3 student of Aquinas College Akure, who is preparing for his Junior WAEC examination said “in my school, we don’t have enough computers to study, and during this our WAEC period we were told to get ourselves a computer and I wish we can get more in our school. Then, I wish more school buses are provided because some of my friends that live in Sango do complain a lot about transportation problem and come late to school. I will encourage the government to try and do more on the electricity because most people can’t afford to buy a generator, it is not all parents that work, some are even begging on the street”.
Abitoye Tosin, also from Aquinas College Akure, a JSS 2 student, wants government to construct beautiful schools like Mega School with a serene and conducive environment. “government should provide free books and free meals and general library for us to excel academically”.
Asuquo Ruth, an SS2 student of African Child Comprehensive High School, Akure poured out her mind on her expectations for Nigeria as a nation. “Government should provide more educated teachers, good classrooms, and facilities for children to operate on like science apparatus; parents too should pay our school fees at the right time and provide textbooks for their children to help them academically. I want Nigeria to be a developed country “.
A poet, Sadeeq Dzukogi from his own ‘Tiny Stories’ contributed by Nigerian Authors as part of UNICEF’s 70th anniversary global celebrations corroborated this decision to give children the opportunity to express their minds contrary to the belief that parents must think for their children by envisaging for ” A world where every child has a home, a sanctuary where their innocence is protected”. Every child has to do their own growing up. For every child, a right to dream, let us therefore give children their right to live and live well like their counterparts in the developed countries.