The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Friday said it would help improve literacy level among Nigerian children in rural areas through sensitisation and advocacy.
The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mr Peter Hawkins, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the importance of literacy and education would be better understood through advocacy.
Hawkins said that for those in the rural areas to understand that they could be liberated from poverty through education, it had to be through advocacy and sensitisation.
According to him, those in the rural areas and local communities are often neglected in the areas of education and health.
The UNICEF Representative said that the agency had taken up the responsibility of sensitising those in the rural areas on the values of education.
“It is a generational curse for parents to be uneducated and be comfortable with their children not being educated and poor.
“It is also a generational curse to allow oneself to die in poverty. The rural people need to know that the only way out of poverty is through education.
“They need to understand that they should allow their children to go to school to get them out of the generational curse of poverty,’’ he said.
Hawkins said that though private education was expensive, the public education should be patronised, because it was free to a great extent.
On the literacy level in Nigeria, he said that it had slightly improved, as an average Nigerian child struggled to be educated.
According to him, it is, however, not a good record because Nigeria should have moved from slightly educated to education for all, which should have been achieved earlier before now.
He said that those who had access to education, especially in some states across the country, were faced with different challenges.
He said the challenges included non-payment of teachers’ salaries, inadequate learning facilities and insufficient infrastructure in most schools.
Hawkins, therefore, called for multi-sectoral collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in the economy, toward realisation of Children’s right, saying that everyone had a role to play.
“Achieving child rights require collaboration and efforts of all stakeholders in the economy, including the parents, guardians, educators, governments and all sectors.
“Child rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) need to be integrated into business principles, strategies and plans, which, in turn, can contribute to more robust and inclusive economic growth and improved employment of young people.
“With the nation’s population close to 200 million people and an ever-increasing youth bulge, Nigeria is experiencing increased demands on schools and health facilities as well as growing challenges for young people to find work, amongst other challenges.
“A strong push will need to be made by all if Nigeria is to meet the SDGs by 2030.
“The private sector could be a critical key in unlocking opportunities for young people, addressing poverty, combating inequality and tackling environmental problems,” he said.