Day of African Child 2024: Enugu  Gov’s wife assures protection of Child’s Right ,access to education

Wife of Enugu state Governor, Mrs Nkechinyere Mbah has  reiterated the commitment of the state Government  to addressing  challenges affecting proper development of  children, such as child abuse, inaccessibility  to education  and other crimes against the African children ,assuring access to quality education and protection of Child’s Rights  in the state.

She gave the assurance in  an address she presented at the celebration of the 2024 International Day of the African Child  and sensitization  campaign on Child Abuse and Awareness, organized by her office  in collaboration with the   Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) and the  Ministry of Children,Gender Affairs and Social Development , on Thursday,at SMARTn School,Owo, Nkanu Eadt Local Government Area of the state.

Pix: Enugu Gov’s wife, Mrs Nkechinyere Mbah

The Governor ‘s wife highlighted the importance of education, noting that it is not  just a fundamental human right but a tool for development and progress.” It equips our children with the knowledge and skills to build better lives for themselves,  their communities and nations. “When we invest in the children, we invest in the future of Africa,” she said 

She added that the International Day of the African Child was established by the Organization of African Unity(OAU) in 1991 in memory of the students who were brutally murdered during the Soweto uprising on June 16, 1976. for protesting poor quality education and demanded  that their right to be taught in their language be respected. “Their bravery and sacrifice  are a reminder of the importance of education and the enduring spirit of the African child 

“With a deep commitment, I celebrate the International Day of the African Child with you today. This day holds a special place in our hearts as it reminds us of the strength, resilience, potential and aspirations of every child across the African continent. “The theme for this year, “Education for All Children in Africa: The Time Is Now, is a call to action,” Mrs Mbah said.

Pix; Mrs Mbah with a SMART school pupil

She noted that despite significant progress made  over the decades, ” children continue to face numerous challenges, such as Poverty, limited access to quality education, malnutrition, and health issues, which are just a few of the hurdles that impede their growth and development. Moreover, child labor and exploitation, including child abuse, remain serious concerns that demand our urgent attention.

She  disclosed that Enugu state Government was  committed to addressing these challenges. She added that the state Government has implemented several programs aimed at improving the lives of  the children:. Some of the programs included  Educational Reforms and Child Protection Policies.

Pix: SMART school students

According to her, the state Government 

 prioritized improvement of educational  infrastructure, ensuring that schools were well-equipped and teachers were adequately trained. 

“We have also increased funding for scholarships and bursaries to support students from underprivileged backgrounds.

” Our administration has launched health programs targeting children’s health, including free medical check-ups and vaccinations. We are also working to eradicate malnutrition through school feeding programs”.

Pix 1: Royal fathers at the event

On child protection policies, she said poverty, child labor, and early marriage were among the many challenges that keep children out of school and in recognition of  the importance of safeguarding the children, the state government  had enacted and enforced stringent laws against child labor and abuse. “We have established child protection units and help lines to ensure that any cases of abuse are promptly reported and addressed.,” she said.

The Governor’s wife emphasized that it is crucial to address the issue of child abuse, which she described as a  scourge that robs children of their innocence and potential. 

Pix: ENSUBEB chairman,Dr. G .O C. Ajah

“Child abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. Each type of abuse inflicts profound harm, robbing children of their innocence, security, and potential. It is our responsibility to recognize the signs of abuse and to take immediate action to safeguard our children.

” Education is a powerful tool in the fight against child abuse; by raising awareness and providing accurate information, we can equip our children. parents, teachers, and community members with the knowledge they need to identify and prevent abuse. Schools like the Smart School play a pivotal role in this endeavor. Here, children are educated academically and taught about their rights. personal safety, and the importance of speaking up,” 

Advising the students,, Mrs Mbah said ,” you are the future of Africa. Your dreams, ideas and creativity will drive our continent forward. Education you receive today will be the foundation upon which you build your tomorrow.

Pix: Nnenna Alozie,Resource person

Never underestimate the power of your potential. With hard work, dedication, and the support of your teachers and families, there is no hard to what you can achieve. I equally urge you to speak out if you or someone you know is experiencing any form of abuse; remember that you have the right to be safe and to be heard.

“If you ever feel uncomfortable or threatened, do not hesitate to contact a trusted adult- a teacher, a parent, or a counselor. Your well-being is our top priority, and we are here to support and protect you,” she said..

Pix: Commissioner for Children, Gender Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Ngozi Enih

To the teachers and school staff, she said, ‘Your role in shaping the minds and futures of our children is invaluable, bearing a significant responsibility, you are on the front lines, interacting with our children daily. Your awareness and proactive approach can make a world of difference. Let us be vigilant in recognizing the signs of abuse. Attend training sessions, collaborate with child protection agencies, and ensure your classrooms are safe havens for every child..

Let there be concerned communication with our children, encouraging them to express their concerns without fear of judgment,” Mrs Mbah advised ..

She maintained  that the children of Africa are our most precious resource, and their  education is the key to unlocking a prosperous and sustainable future for our continent.

Pix: Ikpechukwu Ogbonna, Principal,SMART school, Owo

In his goodwill message, the Chairman of Enugu  State Universal  Basic Education Board(ENSUBEB) Dr. Gabriel O.C. Ajah , commended the state Governor ,Dr.Peter Mbah and his wife for the good works they were doing in the state, saying, ” they have demonstrated enough love , enough passion  for the children of Enugu state . ” Enugu is already in the world map.

“You cannot  talk about infrastructural development, human capital development without  talking of  Enugu state  Our children are the reason we are here. Money shows the way, children show the map. The children will always love to remember you. All the good things you are doing  for the children will always remain fresh in their memory. They will always remember you, *Ajah said.

Pix: Mrs Ajah, ENSUBEB

In her lecture, the Resource Person, Nnenna Alozie, Esq., spoke on Child abuse: , signs and prevention . She said abuse means inflicting pains in someone, physically, emotionally or sexually.. She added that one can identify abuses when people talked down on them in a manner that  is not right Alozie advised students / children to speak up and report to a trusted adult or teacher, when they notice sign of abuse or are abused.

Pix: Mrs Mbah exchanging pleasantries with the traditional rulers from Nkanu East L G A .

In a brief remark, the  Commissioner for Children, Gender Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Ngozi Enih commended the state Governor and his wife for the good works they were doing in the state. She said her ministry in collaboration with CUSTOS Care Foundation will tackle the problem of child abuse in the state..

Earlier in his welcome address, the Principal of SMART school,Owo, Ikpechukwu  Ogbonna thanked the state government for the good work they were doing in the school and the state at large.

H6ighlight of the event was an interactive session with the students.

Author: Maureen Ikpeama

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