By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

Save the Children International celebrates Nigerian children on the occasion of the National Children’s Day.

The Organisation also lamented the effect of COVID-19 pandemic which it said is threatening to push millions of children into acute food insecurity, reduced access to education and protection services.

Under the theme; “Effects of COVID–19 Pandemic on the total well-being of the Nigerian Child: The Way Forward,” SCI said the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the wellbeing and education of children from poorer backgrounds and is widening inequality gaps between the rich and poor, and boys and girls. “The most vulnerable children have disproportionately missed out on education, healthcare, food and suffered the greatest protection risks.”

Purity Oriaifo, Save the Children International Nigeria Girl Champion said, “Due to school closures during the pandemic, so many children- especially girls were out of school. Many of them were out hawking on the streets. Children found it difficult to access educational resources. Those writing their external examinations were not able to sit for the examinations as scheduled. This will affect their admission to higher learning institution. These are big challenges for us as children.”

“Since the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 is first reported, Save the Children International Nigeria donated a total of N108 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) materials, Medical Supplies and Oxygen Devices to support the response actions in Lagos, Jigawa States and FCT Administration” said Amanuel Mamo, Director of Advocacy and Campaign, Save the Children International. “We also supported long distance radio interactive learning whilst schools were closed and distributed over 4,500 solar powered radio handsets to the most vulnerable children within targeted communities in the NE to enhance their ability to participate in radio home learning programs.”

Mamo added “The pandemic is not over yet. The impacts are visible. It needs a continued and stronger local and international collaboration of all stakeholders to minimize and reverse the damages. I would like to encourage the community at large to take maximum precaution to protect themselves from the pandemic by observing the standard medical advisories, including social distancing protocols, proper use of face masks, sensitizers and hand washing.”

As if COVID–19 pandemic and its effects on children are not enough, the constant attack of schools and kidnapping of children in some parts of the country has increased the trauma children experience daily thereby limiting their opportunities to survive, learn and be protected. Every child in Nigeria deserves to enjoy their rights to have free, safe, inclusive, quality and uninterrupted education. Attacks on schools are grave human rights violation and lack of basic decency.

Aisha Idris Nakano, Nigerian Girl Advocate said, “Children are facing a lot of challenges in Nigeria which include malnutrition and lack of basic health care services, lack of good learning materials and inadequate teachers in schools among others. Now, insecurity has increased the number of out-of-school children especially in the northern part of the country. So the government and security agencies should do their best to ensure children are protected from being attacked.”

Save the Children calls upon governments and donors to protect the learning and well-being of a generation of children and youth and address the deepening education crisis as a result of COVID-19 by committing funding to deliver on a global education action plan to ensure a safe return to school for all children, including in Nigeria.

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