United Way Greater Nigeria, CCAPI award scholarships to indigent pupils to mark Day for African Child

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With funding from Cleveland Browns Foundation, two non governmental organizations, United Way Greater Nigeria and Child Care and Adult Protection Initiative (CCAPI) have come together to put smiles on the faces of children as a way to commemorate the International Day for the African Child, 2022.

At an event on Thursday to mark this year’s Day for the African Child, which has as its theme, “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practices Since 2013”, the NGOs paid school fees for 20 indigent pupils and donated writing materials to over 100 others in Government Primary School Ekpri Ikang, Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State.

The Executive Director of United Way Greater Nigeria, Mrs Deola Durodola, said the International Day for African Child is a day set aside to celebrate children that are indigenous to the African continent, and that United Way Greater Nigeria being an NGO that is passionate about the social and educational welfare of children, had come up with the “Empowering Children and Communities Against Violence and Abuse (ECCVA) Project” to draw attention and as well wrought solutions to issues that hinder children from harnessing their full potentials in their communities.

According to Durodola, “the project is to empower communities, children and create necessary awareness about violence, child abuse and the utilization of reporting channels that are available to them, and also build those structures where none is available. In the event today we have focus group discussion with the Headteacher, teachers and parents and we will also be in the communities to speak to community leaders, youth leaders to make sure that the children are protected in the community where they live.

“Raising a well brought up young person is the duty of everyone. We want to try as much as possible to engage everyone in this conversation to ensure that children, especially the girl child is safeguarded and have access to quality education. We also understand that this is Bakassi and it’s really close to the border and because of that there are lots of activities such as migration, trafficking and child labour involving children. We want to protect these children from violence and exploitation”.

“At United Way, we are very inclusive. Even though we are in over 1,800 communities in 40 countries across the world, we are always taking part in events that celebrate the African children and women. This event coincides with the United Way Day of Action. At United Way Greater Nigeria, for this year’s commemoration, we are drumming up support from community members, governments, stakeholders, policy makers, religious and traditional leaders to channel their efforts towards addressing issues affecting women and children in the society.”

Also speaking, the Programme Manager, Mrs Mary Owan, said commemorating the International Day for the African Child will afford the children the opportunity to know their rights and what constitute child abuse.

She said having worked in Ekpri Ikang community, it was discovered that most female children are out of school while some are plagued with early pregnancy, adding “we are working with the teachers and parents to see how we can create awareness on why female children should return to school and as well as provide them with the necessary support.”

On her part, the resource person, Mrs Grace Obi, decried the steady rise in the number of out-of-school children which she blamed on COVID-19 conditionalities, increasing cost of living, parental factor, among others.

Obi said if urgent steps are not taken to reverse the trend, the army of out-of-school children roaming the streets aimlessly would in no distant future constitute themselves into a major societal menace capable of upturning peace and tranquility in the community, state and nation at large.

She, however, called on government at all levels to be alive to their responsibilities and ensure they enforce the principles of universal education.

She also harped on the need for continuity and enforcement of government policies, especially those that have direct bearing on the welfare of women and children in the country, saying these are some of the ways the narrative could be changed.

While thanking the NGOs for marking the 2022 International Day for the African Child at Government Primary School Ekpri Ikang, the Deputy Head Teacher, Mrs Rosemary Ime, said the event has exposed the pupils, teachers and staff to contemporary issues affecting women and children in their environment which hitherto they were not aware of them.

She said the programme which is the first of its kind in the school will equip the teachers with additional knowledge and skills on how to effectively handle and report cases of violence and child abuse among their pupils.

The Deputy Head Teacher also appealed to government to make education at the primary and secondary levels to be free so as to carry the less privileged children in the society along.