Celebrating Nigerian children in a recessed economy

Today is Children’s Day in Nigeria. It is a day set aside to celebrate “childhood.” It is simply a day to honour children and minors.Historically, the International Children’s Day had its origin in Turkey in 1920 (April 23, 1920) and later in the World Conference for the wellbeing of children in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925. It was first celebrated worldwide in October 1955, under the sponsorship of International Union for Child Welfare in Geneva.The idea of a universal Children’s Day was mooted by Rubab Mansoor Grade 8 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954. First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, it was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.Expectedly, children get excited, eagerly awaiting the day.On this day every year, children are granted a holiday, while several social activities are centered on them. Excused from school, most children converge at stadiums and centers to commemorate the event.It has also become the habit of some government officials and media organisations to honour some children with leadership opportunities. Certain radio and TV stations do this by featuring child broadcasters on air and letting them anchor their programmes for the early part of the day.As Nigerians celebrate the children today in a recessed economy, the minors bared their minds on the challenges, expectations from parents and governments at all level.

‘As Recession Affects Parents’ Income, It Affects Children’s Welfare’
By Shakirah Adunola

Dr. Gandonu Babatunde, a psychologist at the Faculty of Social Science, Lagos State University (LASU) said that recession is an economical term that denotes drastic fall in the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of a country.

He said: “It means that what comes in is not enough to cater for the government’s expenses. Hence, it affects many areas. For instance a worker earning N50, 000, whatever the amount could buy before recession, it may not be able to buy quarter of quality or quantity of such in a recession. That makes recession affect everybody automatically, because when you are talking about the government, you are talking of every individual.

He said recession would automatically affect children because parents’ output is affected. “In that sense what they are earning before the recession is still the same thing they are earning during recession. What you are buying for N5000 before recession, you can buy it at N8,000 during recession. Yet there is no increase in salary.

It implies that some whose income cannot take care of the cost the children’s education would have to do a sort of adjustment. That will affect the quality of education the children are going to get and the kind of food they will eat. It will affect their physiological needs because what comes in cannot be enough for parents to cater for the family.”

Gandonu said recession may or may not affect the academic performance of children.“It may affect academic performance, but not from the parent’s angle, but that of teachers teaching the children. Example is teachers in private schools. Most private schools pay their teachers peanuts. A teacher who is being paid N50,000 as salary before the recession cannot cope with such pay during recession, because it has lost value. It means the teacher would want to look out for other means to cater for his or her needs, too. Based on this, it will affect the teacher’s output to the children.”

“Recession shouldn’t affect children’s academic performance, because recession has nothing to do with their brain. It has nothing to do with their concentration. Though nutrition has more to do with their cognitive thinking, but no matter how worst the situation, parents will go the extra mile to make sure they provide for their children. It may not be how it ought to be, but a normal working class parent will do everything possible to cater for his or her children,” the university don said.

He urged parents to live up to their duties during this recession period and make sure what ought to be done on their children is done properly, because children are likely to get involved in social vices due to recession in the country.

“A child that has been pampered by the parent, going to school with N500 to N1000, and due to recession the parent reduces the money to N100, there is tendency for the child to be influenced by other friends who by other means are getting such amount of money to school. Socially, the child is not meeting up with his social needs again; there is tendency for that child to be introduced to something negative due to their level of reasoning. Peer influence at that level is very high.

“As a parent one cannot say because the income one is earning is not enough, one has to shy away from parental responsibility. As a parent you must provide the physiological needs of your children, in terms of feeding, clothing, shelter and other primary needs.

“Parent must monitor their children’s playmate, supervise their school activities and get in touch with the school to know about the progress report of the child at school
“If you say because of recession you want to leave your responsibility as a parent, if recession is over the problem created during recession may not be overcome,” he said.

‘Parents Are Finding It Difficult To Pay Their Children’s School Fees’
By Kemi Sokoya

The economic recession, no doubt is affecting a lot of private schools in Lagos State to the extent that some of the school proprietors have pleaded with the government to come to their rescue.

According to the principal of Prince Charles International College, Olodi-Apapa, Mr. Ogunsanwo Emmanuel, recession is everywhere, and it is really affecting our children in the schools. Majority of the parents cannot pay school fees of their wards, while some have withdrawn their children. We appealed to parents to pay by installments, but many cannot afford it.

The Government should create jobs for the young ones and graduates should engage in other vocations like farming. This is because people graduate from school every year and there is no job,” Emmanuel said.

Speaking to The Guardian, Head of Caro Favoured School, Mr. Mark Okoh, said the recession has affected the schools greatly, stressing that since the resumption their population has reduced drastically.

Many children have left the school and most of them complained of economic recession. They cannot afford to pay the school fees; hence they look elsewhere, mostly cheaper and government-owned schools.

Okoh: “The government should improve the economy. There is no money. Most parents’ business income has dropped drastically. Most pensioners are not paid. The children expect the government to take care of their parents, if the source of livelihood increase, the children would be well taken care of. The economic atmosphere is hash and not friendly.’’

‘Children Urge Government, Parents To Sit Up’
From Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City

Speaking to The Guardian in Benin City, Edo State capital about Chidren’s Day, Master Godwin (surname withheld), a JSS1 student of Western Boys School, Ikpoba Hill said he is not particularly happy with the way and manner issues affecting them have been handled, saying he wished more attention was devoted to their care and welfare.

“I’m in JSS1. My father is a plumber, while my mother is a trader. They have to try every means to make sure that I’m in school. I believe government can help us through the provision of meal the APC party told Nigerians during the campaign in 2015. I want the government to provide more security for my school. Things have been very hard for us. We go through a lot of pains. There are times we had no food. I used to take food to school but for some time now. My parents told me to adjust because things are now hard for them. Our parents mean well for us and that is why we want them to enjoy us after going to school. I want to be a lawyer, “ he said.

At the Imaguero Primary School in Oredo Local Council, a primary five pupil who spoke on condition of anonymity, took everyone by surprise stating that she wants government to take the issue of girl child education beyond lip service.

According to her: “Education is a right. I see no reason why at times when we close from school I see some students selling sachet water along the streets. If street trading by pupils who are supposed to be in school can be banned, I will be very happy.

“Government should put in more efforts to see that parents do not allow their children to stay away, while others are in school. The foundation of the society rests on women’s shoulders. Things have been quite tough with the recession.

“There used to be enough food in our house, but it is not so anymore.  We are just managing but it is better than before. I want the government to put in place that don’t discriminate against women in the society. I want a situation when I’m grown I can take good care of my parents, because of their love for me.”

Miss Osato Orobosa, a JSS 3 student of Voice of Freedom Secondary School, off Sapele Road, said she is happy that education is occupying the front burner in Edo State, even though she still finds some of her age-mates roaming the streets for no clear reason.“I want government to live up to its responsibilities. Our parents cannot do it alone. Things can be tough when you don’t expect them. Prices of goods in the market is very high.”

‘Government Should End Recession, Create More Fun Centres For Us’
By Daniel Anazia

Speaking to The Guardian, JSS 1 student, Miss Agbamuche Mercy, said she is happy to witness another Children’s Day celebration today.“I believe this will be a special day for me. I am very optimistic that my siblings will take me out to catch fun. The economic situation is not encouraging, but I believe things will get better some day. Government should make life easy for us; they should create more jobs for our parents, brothers, uncles and aunts.”

But to 12-year-old JSS 2 student, Okosun Favour, there is no plan for celebration.Favour said: “I was made to understand that things are not good due to the economic recession we are experiencing in Nigeria. The cost of living is high and it is affecting our parents’ income. Although my parents were able to meet my school needs like school fees and books, but other things I used to enjoy are no longer available due to the recession.

“My parents give me pocket money, but not like it was before. There should be designated centres in each council area or community where children can be gathered and celebrated. Corruption is big problem in our country and it is beginning to get to the children. There should be sensitisation from government to children that corruption is bad.”

Master David Onyegeche said: “Today is supposed to be special for me, but I don’t think it will be because I will be at home with no place to go.“My school did not make any preparation for the day and government has no programme for us, too. If my parents oblige, I will go to Rosellas Amusement Park in Igando to have fun.

“The recession has not really affected my education, because my parents are able to meet my education and other needs. I don’t think government has done enough for us as children, because little or no attention is given to policies that concern us. I want government to help the less privileged children, because they don’t have people that can take care of them.”

Miss Udele Esther, a JSS 2 student, said that Children’s Day is always a remarkable day for her, because her parents take her to visit fun places, like the amusement park, beach and other important places that are educative.

“I don’t know what this year’s celebration would be like because of the recession in the country. I don’t know if my dad will take me out. If he doesn’t, I will be sad, because there is nothing I can do.

“Recession is not good for us; it has affected me somehow, because whenever I ask my dad for something, he tells me there is recession. Before now, he gives me whatever I asked from him.”To 11-year-old Enweani Obinna Stephen, who wants to be a footballer when he grows older, Children’s Day is a day to have fun and be celebrated.

“In the past, my mummy took me out, but I don’t know if that will be possible this year, because of the recession in the country. “Though I plan to go to an amusement park, but I don’t know if my mum will agree. Sometime she gives in to my demand and sometimes she refuses. However, the recession has not affected my education, except some luxuries I used to enjoy. Government should end the recession and make everybody happy,” Stephen said.

“Last year, I celebrated the day in church, because it was on a Sunday. This year’s celebration is on Saturday, I would love to go to the beach, but I don’t know if my daddy will take us out, because he told us there is recession and things will not always go the way we expect.

“Again, he does not have luxury of time because his job as a banker does not give him time. The recession at some point affected me because of some challenges in my dad’s office. They were not paid for some time, but I am happy that all that is now over, as my education is being taken care of.

“Government should care for homeless children, build orphanage homes and equip them. They should also help in their education, so that they can become something in life. There should be welfare package for brilliant and indigent kids,” Preye Zipele, a JSS student said.

‘Poor Power Supply Should Be Tackled By Govt’
From Itunu Ajayi, Abuja

I want government to provide all the necessary things we need. I would want my parents to take me on a special outing to have fun and celebrate the day. I understand some organisation wants to bring the original Barney from the US to Abuja, which will be nice. I think government should provide water because most times, there is no water. Although it does not affect us at home, because we have a borehole, but I see a lot of people searching for where to fetch water, especially in the morning. I see them when going to school. I want good roads, electricity and other things that will make life more comfortable. My siblings sleep early most times because of lack of light.
Bolu Olugbenga, Junior Secondary School Area 1, Abuja.

‘I Want To Go Out With My Family’
I would like to go out with my family on that day. I want a happy and save environment for all children. I also want a better and safer Nigeria, where the roads will be good, so that there would be no more accidents.
Favour Adeleye, Redeemer’s Private School, Wuse Abuja.

‘I Want Government To Visit Orphanages’
I want all parents to make their children enjoy and have fun on that day. I want government to go to orphanages and present them with gifts, so that the children there will also have a sense of belonging and be happy. I also want the Acting President to visit sick children in the hospitals. There are lots of sick children in hospitals around us. I know he is a very busy man, but I believe he can still make out the time. If every first child of poor families is given scholarship, they will be able to assist their other siblings after leaving school.
Timi Adebayo, De-Kapital Secondary School, Bwari, Abuja.

‘I Want The Remaining Chibok Girls Released’
I would like to go out and have fun and enjoy myself on the day. I want the Chibok girls to be released, so that they can also be with their families. Government can organise a party for children, especially the poor ones.
Nifemi Owoseni, African Basic Church School, Durumi Abuja.

‘Every Child Should Be Made To Go To School’
I want government to provide security, health care. Children should not be allowed to go about on the streets. Every child should be made to go to school. Parents should guide and monitor their children. They should tell them when to play, do house chores, read their books or watch only censored programmes on the television. Parents should also not leave their children completely in the hands of house helps.
Obasesam David Bassey, Babylove School, Abuja.

‘Let Parents Always Pay Their Children’s School Fees On Time’ 
The only thing I want is for parents to always pay their children’s school fees on time. I want government to provide good roads, give us electricity and water. I also want government to provide jobs to the youth; a lot of them are not doing anything.
Toluwanimi, Babylove School, Abuja.

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