FG, UNICEF Seek Better Reportage of Child Rights
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Enugu
In a bid to reduce the incidence of child abuse in the country, federal government and United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are partnering to improve on techniques of communicating children’s rights issues, including various violations and sanctions against them.
The initiative is to develop university curriculum that helps to broaden the scope of knowledge and exposure of the communication students and practitioners of Mass Communication by infusing child rights concerns.
Speaking at the two-day training of trainers on the presentation of this new curriculum for Child Rights Reporting for Universities and Polytechnics in Nigeria in collaboration with UNICEF in Enugu yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the idea was to facilitate the movement of journalists from the present level of child rights awareness to a certain degree of knowledge thereby bringing about the needed paradigm shift in reporting children.
Director/Head Advocacy Unit, Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB), Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Zira Zakka Nagga, who represented the minister said bringing about the needed paradigm shift in reporting children and expose them to the rights to survival, development, protection and participation.
The minister said the new curriculum and manual for Journalism / Mass Communications as well as instructors guide have been developed to fill these gaps for Polytechnics.
“This will facilitate the movement of all journalists from the present level of Child Rights awareness to a certain degree of knowledge there by bringing about the needed paradigm shift in reporting children and expose them to the rights to survival, development, protection and participation,” he said.
According to Mohammed the objective of the workshop is to equip the lecturers at the journalism training institutions with the new curriculum for child rights reporting for polytechnics.
He also said that the initiative will expose the trainers to the concept of four baskets of rights; survival, development, protection and participation.
In her welcome remark, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Enugu, Mrs. Juliet Chiluwe, said there were a broad range of abuses against children in Nigeria emanating from ignorance of what constitutes child’s right.
She said that since the promulgation of the Child’s Rights Act in 2003, UNICEF has continued to partner with the media, communication institutions and other development partners in diverse ways to promote child’s rights and mainstream it in all core areas of working for children.
Chiluwe said the media remained UNICEF’s very close ally in ensuring wider information spread on issues of child rights.
“This great opportunity helps to broaden the scope of knowledge and exposure of the communication students and practitioners of Mass Communication by way of infusion of the Child Rights concerns, which are also topical concerns for human development.
“Let me also use this opportunity to congratulate the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka, Anambra State for taking this first step to further mainstream child rights curriculum, by electing the CRRC as a general studies course, making it compulsory for in-school mass communicators,” she said.
Nigeria’s Child Rights Act was assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in September 2003, and promulgated as the Child’s Rights Act 2003.
She urged other universities and communication institutions to emulate the feat recorded by Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) in the interest of fostering child rights reportage in Nigeria.
Earlier, the UNICEF Communication Expert, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku explained the objective of the training workshop saying that the media needs to change the public narrative on the issues of child rights by highlighting various aspects of the Child Rights Act.