UNICEF, UNIZIK Partner On Child Rights Education

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has entered into partnership with Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) Awka, Anambra State, to promote and strengthen the rights of the children.

UNICEF said it has empowered the university to design and run an undergraduate programme on child rights reporting for mass communication students and a general studies module of the curriculum.

UNICEF Communication Specialist Geoffrey Njokutold journalists at a two-day Train the Trainers (TOT) meeting for selected Unizik lecturers and some journalists in Enugu that the collaborative opportunity will enhance awareness creation for the rights of children in Nigeria.

UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Mrs Juliet Chiluwe, in her remarks, admitted the issues of children’s right requires constant sensitization so that more people can have good knowledge of the child rights and approaches required in ensuring that children are treated right.

She said: “Nigeria’s Child Rights Act was assented to by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in September 2003, and promulgated as the Child’s Rights Act 2003, and since then, 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.

“Undoubtedly, communicating children’s rights is a challenge because of a broad range of abuses against children that often emanate from ignorance of what constitutes child’s right. This is where the media has a critical role to play and am proud to say that media remains 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.”

She congratulated Unizik for taking the step to further mainstream child rights curriculum, by electing the child rights reporting as a general studies course, making it compulsory for in-school mass communication students. “It’s indeed applaudable and I urge other partnering Universities and communication institutions to emulate the feat as recorded by Unizik in the interest of fostering child rights reportage in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, a lecturer in the department of mass communication, Unizik, Dr. Obiorah Edogor, who also participated in the workshop explained the journey that culminated in the partnership with UNICEF on the child rights education.

He explained: “Following the Project 200 vision of Unizik Vice-chancellor, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, I wrote a report requesting for the inclusion of child rights as one of the courses to be offered in Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

“The VC was, obviously, impressed with the report. He quickly approved the report and directed that among other things, child rights education should be offered at the school of general studies of the university, as well as other relevant departments of the institution.

“After the approval of the VC and ratification by the University Senate, I proposed to UNICEF, that they should organise a TOT workshop for retraining the Unizik staff for teaching child rights courses and that request was expressly granted and we are grateful for that.”

Dr. Edogor highlighted the great gains expected, and advocated support from all stakeholders for the success of the course and the positive impacts as expected.

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