UNICEF Wants Child Rights Reporting Mainstreamed in Universities

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Amby Uneze in Owerri

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has taken the advocacy of expanding the sensitisation of child rights to the tertiary institutions in Nigeria with a view to mainstream child rights reporting into schools of Journalism and Mass Communication of the institutions.

In one of such meetings organised by UNICEF Enugu Field Office held at the ICT Auditorium of the Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri for South East, UNICEF Communication Officer for the zone, Ijeoma Ogwe-Onuoha said that the objective of the advocacy was to sensitise 18 representatives of the academia on the content and usefulness of the New Child Rights Reporting (CRR) guideline and lobby for the acceptance and its mainstreaming into their University’s teaching curriculum.

Among the objectives include to the scale number of tertiary institutions/universities in Nigeria using the CRR guideline in their teaching curriculum by five in UNICEF Enugu Field Office; using the opportunity to press for an expanded use of more tertiary institutions teaching communication; and develop action plan for steps and mechanisms for monitoring progress and results from the mainstreaming process.

The Communication Officer noted that the expected outcome of the meeting would be that the 18 representatives of the academia in Abia, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi States become fully aware of the CRR through sensitisation meeting conducted and show of commitment to mainstream into their curriculum, as well as having more tertiary institutions show visible commitment to take off with the CRR mainstreaming initiative in South East, taking to scale five more units number of tertiary institutions using the CRR guideline.

In his presentation on “the Child Rights Reporting Curriculum”, Professor Emeritus Pai Obanya of the Institute of Education, University of Ibadan described curriculum development process as preliminary notions that involve design, develop, implement, monitor, evaluate and review; noting that the concept is simply concerned with educational down-to-earthiness.

According to the erudite professor emeritus, the structure embraces child rights and development, reporting and communicating child rights issues and concerns which involves the discussion of the background of Nigerian and international laws on child rights; provision of an overview of the rights of the Nigerian child; identification of human rights organisations involved in child rights; and discussion of ways in which the media could become advocates for the promotion of child rights.

Going through the activities of the reporting and communicating child rights issues and concerns module should equip academia with the skills needed to effectively; discuss the background and development of child rights; prepare appropriate types of reports to communicate child rights issues to a variety of audiences; identify the social, political and economic contexts affecting child rights reporting; discuss ethics guiding child reporting; and undertake public awareness and consciousness-raising activities on child rights.

He also contended that by diligently working through issues on child rights module, academia should be in a position to select from a wide range of perspectives in the professions of Mass Communication to promote child rights; discuss child rights in their various ramifications; distinguish between different frameworks and paradigms for reporting the child; explain approaches to resource mobilisation for advocacy and promotion of child rights; demonstrate skill in advocating and promoting child rights issues; draw practical lessons from case studies on child rights; write proposals on child rights promotions, following specifications; and design intervention strategies for advocating and promoting child rights.

Welcoming UNICEF’s team, the Head, Department of Mass Communication, Imo State University, Dr. Nkem Fab-Ukozor observed that many children in different communities are subjected to terrible abuses and deprivations as a result of ignorance, adding that in that regard Journalists have significant role to inform, educate the public on such dangers.

“I believe that the UNICEF has made the right choice of theme “Mainstreaming Child Rights Reporting in Mass Communication Training Institutions in Nigeria” for the right choice of trainees, and obviously the right choice of location for the training, because Imo State is the Heartland of South East”, she said.

She commended UNICEF for her wisdom in taking the right steps in the right direction by trying to infuse CRR in the curriculum of the Mass Communication department of the tertiary institutions in the country.