UNICEF Promotes Child Rights Studies in Nigerian Universities

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By Amby Uneze

Piqued by the urgent need to mitigate child rights studies in Nigerian tertiary institutions, the Communication Specialist of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Geoffrey Njoku, has disclosed that the media constitutes a critical ally in the realisation of child rights in the country.

The Mass Communication Department of Nigerian universities that teach media studies, he said the media could help to influence the attitudes and behaviours of all towards an understanding of the scope, meaning of children’s rights and thus help to create and to maintain an enabling environment that would influence legislation, opinions and also mobilise resources for children.

He stated this while interacting with newsmen at the validation of draft reviewed curriculum of Child Rights Reporting course organised by the UNICEF in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

The UNICEF communication Specialist insisted that the media could support the mobilisation of positive public opinion, political will materials and financial resources and raise public awareness, argued that this could be achieved by setting agenda for citizen’s issues within the framework of children’s rights.

In his words, “partnership with the media ensures that all sectors of the Nigerian populace have the information facts, as well as the knowledge to stimulate positive behaviour/attitudinal change in support of child friendly initiatives. The media can also equip and encourage policy makers, rights holders, duty bearers, community leaders and families to advocate for child rights at national, state and grassroots levels.”

Emeritus Professor Pai Obanya of the University of Ibadan noted that the need to protect the child as the most vulnerable segment of society had become much more imperative in the face of increased violence, war, abject poverty, child trafficking and many vices that dehumanise the human race.

Prof. Obanya explained that it was in the light of the above that the concern of well-meaning organisations like the UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) among others to protect the rights of child should be appreciated.

The erudite scholar cautioned that concern without action is futile, stressing that concern backed by action is bound to produce desirable results “Results that is not sustainable cannot manifest in action and action is achieved through well thought out work plans and strategies with long term effects in view”.

He stressed the importance of education as one of the most effective tools for achieving change in society and stressed that UNICEF and the Federal ministry of information had taken the bold steps of mainstreaming this critical issue into the curriculum of the nation’s premier and foremost mono-technic .

At the workshop which featured presentation of draft curriculum review, teacher guide and brainstorming on draft curriculum review, by Professor Obanya emeritus Professor institute of Education, great opportunities for reporting child rights in the unbundled mass communication curriculum, Geoffrey Njoku communication specialist UNICEF noted that the media constitute a critical ally in the realization of children’s rights in the country.

In her contribution, Dr. Ifeyinwa Nsude, Snr. Lecturer Ebonyi State University and the immediate past Head of Mass Communication Department of the same institution, recalled that collaboration with the federal ministry of information, the NIJ and the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Dec 2006 constituted a team to draft a curriculum for mainstreaming child rights reporting in the teaching of journalism and mass communication training institutions in the country.

The idea, according to her was to develop a curriculum guideline which other training institutions could adapt into their already existing journalism and mass communication programmers to produce graduates who are knowledgeable about child rights.