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  On June 16, 2021, Africa celebrated the International Day of the African Child, a day set aside to raise awareness on the importance of education for children in Africa.

  The theme of this year’s celebration was;”30 years after the adoption of Charters: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an African fit for children “.The Day of the African Child has been celebrated every year since 1991,when it was first initiated by the then Organisation of African Unity.

  In Nigeria, the celebration kicked off with a call on all stakeholders to protect the rights of children.?

  The call was made in Abuja at the celebration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) by the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission,Mr Tony Ojukwu,who urged all Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) and child-focused organisations to adopt some of the strategies like aligning with the national implementation plans of child rights/laws with international action plans, SDGs’ agenda to ensure a more holistic and measurable implementation outcome.?

  The executive secretary, who was represented by the Director, Political and Civil Education Rights of the Commission,Mr Abdulraham Yakubu, also urged ?the organisations to explore new tools and innovations like technology and social media to accelerate the implementation of child- based laws and policies in the country.?

  Furthermore, he charged the organisations to adopt and ensure universal health services for all children.?

  Equal access and compulsory education for all children, including rural communities, the girl-child, disabled and children in conflict, were also suggested to be implemented by stakeholders.

  The executive secretary also challenged them to address the root causes of the conflict and engage early warning mechanisms to eliminate the impact of armed conflict on children.?

  Here in Rivers State,the International Federation of Female Lawyers(FIDA), Rivers State Branch in partnership with the Women and Young World Unit of The Tide Newspapers,Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, last Friday commemorated the International Day of the African Child at primary and secondary schools in Kalio-Ama, Okrika Local Government Area.?

  It was an interactive forum, where discussions with the pupils and students on various topics took place.It was an eye-opener and instructive engagement as some of the pupils and students expressed delight over the knowledge gained from the interaction. They noted that this was the first time they were made to know and get this kind of information about their rights.

  The topics presented dwelled on sexual violence and molestation -How to protect yourself and a third party, Cyberbulling and protection, Positive use of the internet, Career talk and rights and responsibilities of a child.

  In a chat with some of the pupils and students after the interactive forum,they expressed enthusiasm for the knowledge gained from the programme.?

  A primary five pupil of State Primary School, Kalio-Ama, Okrika Miss Tamunomiebaka Loveday, said,” I learnt that if anybody wants to touch my private part I should shout and run.If they threaten me that they will kill me,I should tell them that they cannot kill me and run”. She also learnt that,she has right over her body and report anybody touching her body even in her house, she should go to the Police Station and report.?

  Also a primary five pupil of State Primary School, Kalio-Ama, Okrika, Master Progress Tamunosimie, said, “I was told not to let nobody touch my private part and buttocks,my shoulder and my mouth, because they are private to me. Anybody that wants to do any of those things,we should shout and say no and tell any elder around”.

  Also, Master JSS1 student of Community Secondary School! Kalio-Ama, Precious Tamunotepiba, said,”we were told that it is not good to do bad things by touching our sisters,that it is not of God.If we see anybody doing wrong things, like sex in the school,I should call FIDA”.

  In the same vein, a JSS1 student of CSS,Kalio-Ama Miss Rosemary Mustaphar, said,”the aunties told us that we should not do sex,when somebody tells us to do it,even if it is our brothers,uncle or Dad,we should report.I learnt that we should not go to Facebook and post our full names, image and address,it is not good because of criminals”.

  An SS 3 student of CSS,Kalio-Ama, Miss Adams Grace said,”we were taught as girls to dress properly to avoid bad things.That our body belongs to us,we should not allow anybody to touch us privately.

  Also,we should not use the internet for immoral things, that we should use it for something that will benefit us.For career,we should not choose courses because of friends,we should choose careers we can do well.

  Lastly, Master David Pan some,SS2 student also of CSS Kalio-Ama said,”we learn that we should make good use of the internet because it gives us some good information but we should not use it to check pornographic pictures which is not good for us.Also,we should cover our private parts, both boys and girls, because it belongs to us.

  We were told that if we see anyone involved in rape,we should report to the nearest Police”.

  In a separate interview, the Vice Principal of CSS,Kalio Ama, Mr Turbo George, stated that the programme was worthwhile and commendable in the sense that the children had interacted with worthy achievers and role models.

  He added that,”this is a good thing for the children because seeing these calibre of women coming to talk to them in their local community has given the chilren a sense of belonging.

  After the forum,the group paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman of Kalio-Ama Council of Chiefs,Chief Johnson Amiemiesimeaye Abi Kalio,who expressed satisfaction about information gained by the children said,this will help them greatly.

  Chief Kalio commended the group for visiting Kalio-Ama to educate the children, noting that the community was safe.

  He stated that,”nowadays boys and girls behave as if life is meaningless but that the information they have gained from this interactive programme will help checkmate them on their sexual activities and attitudes.

  He however, appealed to the group to come back on a later date for a Townhall meeting with chiefs and parents so that they are intimated with some of these information.

  Earlier, in her speech,the Acting Chairperson of FIDA,Rivers State, Barr(Mrs) Nnenna Igbokwe, stated that the group was in Kalio-Ama to celebrate the International Day of the African Child, which is celebrated on the 16th of? June every year,

  The chairperson noted that children were always at the mercy of whoever they found themselves with and therefore needed adequate protection from all forms of violence. She however thanked? the chief and the school authorities for the opportunity given the group to sensitise the children on their rights and privileges adding that,”for us at FIDA,we are focusing on the security of our children in the society today”.

  By: Ibinabo Ogolo