By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The United Nations International Children Education Fund( UNICEF) has
has observed that the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening decades of progress it has made for children, saying all must act in the best interests of children by deploying innovative solutions to fast-track learning and health services to build back better, for every Nigerian child.
It noted that this year’s Nigerian children day is came at a challenging moment for child rights in the country and the world, with the Covid-19 threatening gains made for children development.
” As we rightfully celebrate Nigerian children today, let us also remember that the COVID-19 crisis has been a child rights crisis – in Nigeria and around the world.”
The remarks were made in a statement by the agency’s Country Director , Peter Hawkins.
Hawkins said” It has been a challenging year for us all with the COVID-19 pandemic – not least of all, Nigeria’s children – and I want to commend efforts at all levels of Nigerian government and society to protect education, health, and protection services in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.
According to the UNICEF top Official” Poverty is rising, inequality is growing, and the pandemic has often disrupted the essential services that secure the health, education and protection of children and young people.”
Hitherto, Hawkins observed that ” the longer the pandemic goes on, the more intense the impact on women and children.”
He continued ” On this Nigerian Children’s Day, let us all agree that we cannot let one crisis compound another.”
While giving a statistical run down of the pandemic effect , Hawkins noted that” violence is perpetrated against one in four Nigerian children – and one in three Nigerian girls are sexually abused.
” This has only increased during the pandemic hence, today of all days, we must commit to reinforce the protection mechanisms for all children.
” One thing we have learned is that education takes place not only in schools – children can and should learn both in and out of school.
” A learning continuum is critical, so that all children continue to get an education irrespective of their situation, location, or the pandemic”, he explained.
The UNICEF Country Official further noted that Nigerian children were resilient, talented and aspiring to do great things” it is our responsibility to give them the platform and encouragement to do just that”, he urged while saying that ” we know protecting children and investing in women and families is not only the right thing to do – it has proven to be a sound economic choice and a cost-effective tool for national development.”