The right of the child to Child’s Rights Education
The right of the Child to Child’s Right Education flows from his right to education in general, guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, African Charter on Human and people’s Rights and the Child’s Right Act, 2003. Section 18 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides as follows:
“Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels”.
It is my humble view that education, either formal or otherwise cannot be adequate until it empowers the child to speak for himself. It may then be apt to conclude that the education of the Child is inadequate without Child’s Rights Education.
An appropriate syllabus for the Child’s Rights Education is that which takes into consideration the three main angles the right of the Child can be considered under local and international laws, namely:
- His/her Rights at the domestic/family setting.
- His/her rights in his relationship with the larger civil society.
- His/her rights under the child justice system.
The rights protected under the foregoing can be further broken down as follows:
- Right to live, survival and development;
- Right to name, family and nationality;
- Right to belong to any association or assembly according to the law;
- Right to express opinion and freely communicate them on any issue subject to restriction under the law;
- Rights to protection from any act that interferes with his or her privacy, honour and reputation;
- Rights to adequate rest, recreation, (leisure and play) according to his age and culture;
- Rights to compulsory basic education and equal opportunity for higher education depending on individual ability;
- Rights to good health, protection from illness and proper medical attention for survival, personal growth and development;
- Rights against indecent and inhuman treatment through sexual exploitation, drug abuse, child labour, torture, maltreatment and neglect;
- Rights against discrimination irrespective of ethnic origin, birth, colour, sex, language, religion, political and social beliefs.
The foregoing issues constitute most of the areas on which the participation of the Child should be sought before decisions are taken by society.
A charge to Nigerians and policy makers
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his opening statement to the General Assembly, addressed the children of the world. “We, the grown-ups, have failed you deplorably… One in three of you has suffered from malnutrition before you turned five years old. One in four of you has not been immunized against any disease. Almost one in five of you is not attending school…. We, the grown-ups, must reverse this list of failures.” Carol Bellamy, former UNICEF Executive Director, gave a clue to how “this of failures” can be reversed as follows: “If we want to overcome poverty and the instability it breeds, we must start by investing in our young people…”
Fellow Nigerians and policy makers, there is not better investment in young people than the investment of knowledge, only through which the Nigerian Child can participate in his own protection. I therefore charge you all to use your areas of influence to give expression to the rights of the child to protection and participation by agitating for the introduction of Child’s Rights Education in Upper Primary and Secondary Schools.
The introduction of Child’s Rights Education will evince the faithfulness of the Nigerian State to her promise to keep faith with the resolution of the United Nations’ General Assembly Special Session on Children held in May, 2004.
My watch word as a legal practitioner and child protection specialist is found in the following instruction of’ the first indigenous Nigerian lawyer, Christopher Alexander Sapara William: “The legal practitioner lives for the direction of his people and the advancement of the cause of his country.” It is in keeping faith with the instructive words of the founding father of the legal profession in Nigeria that I have decided in the last 16 (sixteen) years embarked on the crusade for the protection of the rights of the Nigerian Child. It is also in that spirit that I do this advocacy in the interest of the present and future of us to agitate for the urgent need to introduce Child’s Rights Education in the primary and secondary schools in Nigeria.
I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.
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