By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
16-years old Tabitha Emmanuel from Gwoza Local Government in Borno State, who was displaced by Boko Haram that resulted to her dropping out school and later returned to school with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has urged the traditional leaders in the Northern part of Nigeria to embark on massive campaigns to take children of the street.
Tabitha, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to bring the killings in the country to an end, noting that children and women are the most affected.
“I call on our Royal fathers/traditional leaders who are the custodians of our culture and traditions to embark on massive campaigns among their subjects to take children off the streets and into schools.
“l would like to use this opportunity to call on our dear president, President Muhammadu Buhari to bring to an end the killings in the country in which children and women are the most affected. I also called on the Executive Governors to make education free and compulsory for all children in their states and provide safe and secure schools for learning to take place. she said.
Tabitha, made the call on Wednesday in Kaduna, while sharing her experiences on the pains of being out of school, at the “Northern Nigeria Traditional Leaders Conference on Out of School Children”, organized by Federal Ministry of Education Commission, Universal Basic Education, National Commission for Mass Education and Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development in collaboration with UNICEF.
According to her, “i feel greatly honored to be here to talk on behalf of all those girls and boys that were once out of school but had a chance to go to school with hope for a better future. I am also here to talk on behalf of the many girls and boys who are STILL out of school.
“The survival and destiny of any family, community, society or country cannot be divorced from education. Therefore, access to quality education for all should be of concern to everyone. But
how can societies like ours thrive in this 21st century when millions of children have no opportunity to access education that can make them productive members of their
“I was once like many other girls and boys who are out of school. There was a time in my village when Boko Haram sent a letter saying no girl should be seen in school. They came and burnt
down the school in my village. That day they killed so many people, took a lot of women and girls into captivity.
“We ran all through the night to escape. Shortly after, about 276 girls were abducted from GGSS Chibok, I was forced to stay at home for 6 months. Life became difficult as i was faced with a very bleak future.
“Thank God, I was lucky to be given a chance to go back to school when schools were reopened in Borno State. Thanks be to God I managed to complete my primary and secondary education which has given me bigger dreams for my future.”
The 16-years old girl, further stated, “i always think and wonder what life will be like if my dream of further education is cut short. I think about the many girls and boys that are out of school, without any opportunity to even start dreaming about a better future for them.
“My dear elders, I do not need to remind you that God, in His infinite wisdom, made education and seeking of knowledge compulsory upon all human beings. As a girl who has been given this
opportunity to go back to school, I feel lucky and privileged to be put on a path with a promise for a brighter future: therefore I would like to talk a bit more about the importance of girls’
“I believe, that education of females is a religious and constitutional right. Yes, education is important for everyone, but it is especially significant for girls and women it is so important that
efforts should be focused on addressing girls’ disadvantages and systemic abuses.”
She said, every child deserves to grow up with the love and guidance of their parents, and by denying girls an education, the country stand a chance of increasing motherless childhood for so many, adding that investments in girls’ education will yield high dividends.
“There’s no doubt that education empowers girls to take control of their lives, their families, and their future. Girls with dreams become women with vision, I hope elders in our communities together with development partners like UNICEF, can continue to support girls actualize their dreams and visions.
“I would like to appeal to our community leaders to recognize that children and youths in northerners Nigeria and the country as a whole are important machinery that will shape our country’s destiny. Children and youths can help to bring about desirable changes to this nation if given access to quality education.” She explained.
Tabitha noted that collective efforts are necessary to ensure that schools are safe along and within schools and that gender-based barriers to education, including inequitable gender norms are addressed.
“As we reflect on all these, we need to take corrective measures to address the following as key reasons why many children are out of school; Poverty: although education maybe free, same of the basic costs such as transportation or even a notebook are too much for most.
“Child labor: because it is often necessary that every member of the family contributes to its subsistence. Others include: poor teaching; peer pressure, drug and substance abuse etc.
“I believe that the time has come to speak out and fight for the education of all children and youths, especially girls in our communities. And we the youth rely on our royal fathers as custodians of our heritage to facilitate implementation of action points coming from this conference as we expect much from this important gathering.
“It may not be easy to address all the challenges at a time but with collective efforts we are hopeful that gradually situations will improve for better just as one of the great leaders of our time, President Barack Obama of USA had said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”