The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it has developed a Child Right Reporting course for use in the mass communication departments of Nigerian universities and polytechnics.
UNICEF’s Geoffrey Njoku, who disclosed this on Thursday, said the United Nations’ agency worked with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to include the course in all of the unbundled mass communication courses.
NUC had unbundled mass communication into seven distinct courses; Journalism and Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film and Multimedia Studies, Development Communication Studies, and Information and Media Studies.
Speaking at a training of trainers for the curriculum for tertiary institutions, Mr Njoku said the United Nations’ agency hoped the courses would empower journalists-in-training with the capacity and understanding of the issues around child rights and how to report them.
“When they were doing the unbundling of mass communication in the universities we (UNiCEF) were part and parcel of it,” he said. “And I’m happy to say that at the end of the unbundling, Child Right Reporting came into the curriculum for mass communication in Nigerian universities. Now it’s called JMS Journalism and Media Studies 403”.
He said UNICEF is training lecturers in the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka because the university has domesticated the course into its journalism curriculum and the general studies course.
READ ALSO: 11 states yet to domesticate Child Rights Act — Minister
He said the agency would also train polytechnic lecturers before the end of the year.
“Now that we have it in the curriculum, in Nigerian universities, they have decided to domesticate it within their own to start running with it,” said Mr Njoku.
“So that’s why we are providing them with that initial orientation and training for the teachers or the lecturers who are going to be running the course. That’s what we’re doing here.”
Facilitator, UNICEF speak
In an interview, a Journalism lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) and facilitator at the training, Jide Johnson, said the course has also been included in the general studies for all first and second-year (National Diploma ND) students of Mass Communication in the polytechnics.
In the Higher National Diploma (HND), where mass communication has been unbundled into three courses, students of all the departments (Strategic Communication, Journalism and Film, and Multimedia Production) are to study Child Rights Reporting as a course, he said.
Mr Johnson said he was part of the team that developed the curriculum, a process he said started in 2006.
In her presentation, Chief of Field Officer, UNICEF Enugu, Juliet Chiluwe, commended the NAU for mainstreaming the child right course in its curriculum and called on other universities to adopt the same measure.
She said: “This great opportunity helps to broaden the scope of knowledge and exposure of the communication students and practitioners of Mass Communication by way of infusion of the Child Rights concerns, which are also topical concerns for human development.
“Let me also use this opportunity to congratulate the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka, Anambra State, for taking this first step to further mainstream child rights curriculum by electing the CRRC as a general studies course, making it compulsory for in-school mass communicators. It is indeed applaudable and I urge other partnering universities and communication institutions to emulate this feat as recorded by NAU in the interest of fostering child rights reportage in Nigeria.”
Nigeria’s Child Rights Act
Nigeria’s Child Rights Act was assented to by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in September 2003.
By 2023, two (Kano and Zamfara) of Nigeria’s 36 states are yet to assent to the bills.
Yet, children are still facing a broad range of abuses emanating from ignorance of what constitutes a child’s right, said Mrs Chiluwe.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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