DEJA VU: HISTORY IS ON THE SIDE OF THE NIGERIAN CHILD
I have just been married to the wife of my youth, Oluwafunmilayo on November 25, 2006, and we have returned from our 2-day honeymoon into our scarcely furnished apartment in Ojodu Lagos when my phone rang. On the other side was Dr Geoffrey Njoku of UNICEF Abuja. He was in Lagos and he wanted us to meet on the next day at the premises of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, saying, ‘Taiwo I have work for you.’ I leapt out of the bed and announced to my new wife the news I just received.
On the next day, I arrived at the meeting in the company of the wife of my youth and I was in the midst of erudite scholars in their own fields. The provost of NIJ, Dr Elizabeth Nkem, senior lecturers, Dr Jide Johnson, Dr Dele Omojuyigbe, Mrs Oruoma Odum of the institutions, Professor of Mass Communication, Luke Uka Uche, who was later represented by Dr(now professor) Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, John Ndukauba, Secretary, Nigerian Guild of Editors, another professor of curriculum development.
Our mandate was declared by Dr Njoku: we are to mainstream Child’s Rights Education into the curriculum of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism from the National Diploma to Post Graduate level. The reasoning behind the mandate was to introduce Child Rights to education to journalists in training and practice, helping them to understand the issues and become informed professionals as they inform the members of the public.
My role was identified as providing legal and practical advocacy support having pioneered the first Child’s Rights column within the Legal Journal of a leading Nigerian national newspaper. We worked for three years on that project and fulfilled the mandate. We were later trained at the United Nations House Abuja on how to disseminate the curriculum from a development perspective, known as Communication for Development. I was also privileged to lecture a part of the course in the early days of dissemination.
That curriculum that we developed is today being taught in almost all the mass communication departments of many of our institutions of learning in Nigeria today. To this, Dr Geoffrey Njoku will testify.
What is the moral of the story to the #NOPROTECTIONNOSCHOOL campaign? It was an advocacy commitment from 1997 or thereabouts that Child’s Rights Education should be mainstreamed into the curriculum of the Nigerian Police Colleges and mass communication departments of higher institutions of learning in Nigeria. The thinking was police is the gatekeeper to law enforcement as journalists are the gatekeepers to shaping the culture of society and if Children Rights Education was mainstreamed at the point of their induction into the professions it would make a whole lot of difference to their effectiveness in representing the best interest of the child.
The same way what began as advocacy became a reality, so shall it be with this #NOPROTECTIONNOSCHOOL Campaign.
Sylvester Oromoni and his likes have become the saints by whose blood the tree of freedom of protection within the school system in Nigeria is watered.
Help us make this a reality with your support. Report our write-ups, become an advocate in your areas of influence. Watch out for further direction.
Do have an INSPIRED holiday.
I am Taiwo AKINLAMI
S.A.F.E®️ for Children ETHICIST