Residents in Cross River state have called on the Federal Government to make education compulsory to the poor and needy in the country especially the girl child. This they say will curtail harmful practices against children in the society. They have also said that empowering women will further improve not just their lives but also their children and the nation at large.
This plea is in line with the Day of the African Child observed by the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with theme, ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’. The day is commemorated annually since 1991 when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to honour those who participated in the Soweto, South Africa uprising in 1976.
Hence Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the world are advocating for child’s rights seeking attention on good education, stopping early marriage, genital mutilation, and child labour, amongst others.
Speaking to The Guardian, on the prevention of harmful practices on the girl child, a resident and head teacher at Government Primary School, Ekorinim, Calabar, Asuquo Nse Okon noted that having access to education will enable her take care of herself, be knowledgeable and avert the ills that may befall her.
“Another way of preventing it is through women empowerment; we are in a political era, women should be given chance to take up leadership roles, the ultimate solution is to send children to school and make education compulsory to the poor, needy and even to the aged as they can go to adult education and learn how to read and write.”
She further added that female genital mutilation should be wiped out completely to avert the dangers and health issues it brings on the girl child. “Those who are educated know the harmful effect on the girl child hence education is key to solving this menace.
“Educating the men is also very important. If the men are educated, they will not do it to their children. If you see in our society today, educated parents don’t send their children to go and hawk. Exposing these children to hawking may cause harm in these times where kidnapping is rampant.
While a parent, Mr. Edim Ita said street children popularly called Skolombo is as a result of the underserved who have too many children than they can take care of, hence the government take charge of these children. “The government should help them learn a skill, like the garment factory in Calabar established by the state government, some of them can be sent there.”