What does ‘Children’s Day’ mean to you? A non uniform day in school? A children’s party at the government house? Another day at home when all children wear new clothes and eat specially cooked rice? A day to have a march past, parade, trophy and selfie with the governor?
It’s great to have a non uniform day in school or a children’s party… but children’s day should be more. It should be a time when we reflect on children’s rights as stipulated by UNCRC. As practitioner’s, what activities have we got planned to promote the well being of children all through the academic year? As parent’s, how are we working with our children and their schools and other agencies to promote their development and well being? As government, what legislation and policies have we put in place to ensure that children have their rights and entitlements? What provisions have we made to meet children’s entitlements? Have we created enough awareness amongst all parties involved in the care of children about children’s rights?
May 27th is a day in Nigeria when we celebrate children’s day. Our children are rewarded with a day off school. Like Christmas and Easter, we get so carried away by the preparation and celebration that we pay no attention to the true meaning of children’s day, why it is being celebrated and how it should be celebrated. Children’s Day comes from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. The UNCRC articles 1 – 45 should be a guide for all those involved in the care of children. It gives a clear definition of who ‘a child’ is and stipulates children’s rights including: non-discrimination; freedom of expression; freedom of thought, belief and religion; parental responsibilities and a right to education. The UNCRC was ratified by Nigeria hence we are under obligation to ensure that our children have these rights.
Article 13 of the UNCRC for example, talks about ‘The right to freedom of expression’. As parents and practitioner’s, how long do we wait for children to finish expressing themselves before they get ‘the shush’ from us? How much access do they have to information (within the law) and how do we enable them to contribute to the decision making process whether at home or in school?
Understandably, we are a country where nobody checks anybody but we can all begin with small steps in our own little areas of responsibility. If parents do their bit, teachers do their bit, schools do their bit and government does it’s bit then we have happy days ahead of us.
As we celebrate children’s day each year, we should remember that the future lies in the hands of children and their well being should take priority if this future is to be secured.
Happy May 27th
Gladys Esue Briggs writes for Maths Junction (The Nigerian Maths Curriculum Online).