Children are wonderful gifts to their parents and are treasured, catered for and trained, equipping them with the basic needs and characters to face the challenges of life with the hope that they become great leaders of tomorrow to pilot the affairs of the society, states, nation and the world at large.
Following the recognition of the role played by children in each family and the need to celebrate and make them feel loved and important, preparing them for leadership positions in future, a day was set aside for them.
A day was set aside to celebrate children, and that day is “CHILDREN’S DAY”. May 27 is traditionally the children’s holiday in Nigeria, a day to celebrate the children.
Children’s Day began in 1857 by Reverend Dr Charles Leonard in Chelsea, US. Even though Children’s Day is celebrated globally by most of the countries in the world on June 1st, Universal Children’s Day takes place annually on November 20th.
Children’s Day is a commemorative date celebrated annually in honor of children, whose date of observance varies by countries as the international Children’s Day was first proclaimed in Geneva during the World Conference on Child Welfare in 1952. While United Nations first established the day in 1964, the day remains important in the lives of many Nigerian kids.
It is a national day to celebrate the importance of children and the day provides policymakers and families with an opportunity to consider the personal development of young Nigerians.
It is a public holiday for Primary and Secondary school children. Due to the large size of the country, only a few groups of children (schools or other organizations) are selected to participate in march past parade as organised by various states across the federation. The ravaging COVID 19 pandemic has even slowed down the celebration as large crowd is prohibited to check the spread.
On May 27th every year, children are granted a holiday while several social activities are centred on them. Excused from school, most kids converge at stadiums and centres to commemorate the event. COVID 19 however has changed the way its been celebrated across the globe.
Governor Godwin Obaseki’s led administration places great premium on the lives of Edo children, preparing them for leadership positions in the state, country and world at large. Flowing from this, the governor introduced Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EDOBEST) programme to lay a good foundation for them.
EDOBEST, is a programme organised to catch the kids young at the basic level educationally with the use of technology in learning. This programme is chaired by a committed, dedicated, selfless, and hardworking Edo woman and the Chairman Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe. Under her dynamic leadership, Edo children have benefited greatly from EDOBEST. They can now read, write, do arithmetic correctly. Most striking is that even primary one pupils in public schools across Edo State are now able to read books meant for their age category.
To ensure that learning does not just end in the classroom, SUBEB decided to key into 2021 celebration to show and express how important Edo children are to the Obaseki’s administration.
The children’s day celebration was held across the 18 Local Government Area of Edo State with various activities to spice up the day for the children and make it memorable. Children in Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North were all captured in the celebration galore, thanks to the foresight of Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe.
The 2021 Children’s Day celebration with the theme: “Unite to reverse the impacts of COVID 19 Pandemic on children,” President Muhammadu Buhari celebrated the Day with a solemn promise to bequeath a better country for the present and future generations. He described children as precious blessings that should be nurtured to carry the burden of the society in the future.
In a message to celebrate Edo children, Governor Godwin Obaseki assured that his administration will sustain ongoing reforms to strengthen public institutions to guarantee a sustainable future for Edo children. He added that his administration will continue to implement policy reforms to benefit children in the state. “I am delighted to mark this year’s Children’s Day and celebrate our children, who are the future of Edo State and Nigeria”.
He said Edo children were beneficiaries of very pragmatic reforms that the administration have undertaken in the education sector over the past four years.
“It is indeed fulfilling that we can see the evidence of the huge investment made in transforming the way our children learn, which is manifest in the outcomes from our basic education sector.”
Edo pupils across the 18 Local Government Area were very much involved in this year’s celebration as SUBEB and Edo State Government engaged them in various activities despite restrictions necessitated by coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike previous celebration held in Benin, the Executive Chairman of SUBEB Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe said the celebration was discentralised in 2019 to ensure children participate across the three senatorial districts. She explained that the COVID 19 pandemic led to SUBEB taking it a step further by organising “micro children’s day” celebration across the 18 LGA. She noted that a major highlight for the 2021 celebration was launch of “Every Child a Reading Champion” literacy campaign.
“As part of the 2021 celebration, we have launched ‘Every Child a Reading Champion Literacy campaign’. The aim is for our children leaving primary school to know how to read. When leaving primary six our pupils will be able to read fluently and also can author a book. That is the standard we are setting for ourselves. We are also rolling out classroom library where each child take turn to become the class liberian.
“Since 2018 when EDOBEST was launched, over seven million textbooks and instructional materials have been distributed to schools across the State. For the 2021 celebration, we have distributed over 40,000 books and instructional materials.
From Ehor in Uhunmwode, Abudu in Orihiomwon, Idogbo in Ikpoba-Okha to Uselu in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State, it was all celebration and fun for the children. Moving to Etsako West in Edo North, Ubiaja in Esan South East, the stories were not different, it was a day to celebrate Edo children.
In Ehor, Abudu and Idogbo children engaged in match past, poem recitations, football game, cultural display by participating schools. Even pupils from far Central and North did not need to come to Benin City to be part of it the excitement. Edo pupils were celebrated in Ekpoma, Ubiaja, Auchi and other designated locations for the event across the 18 LGA.
In Ehor, the focus was on parents. They were urged to inculcate fear of God into their children as they mark the day in Uhunmwode Local Government Area. A teacher, Mr Ohenhen Johnson, of Uwa Model Primary school in Uhunmwode local government area, said that it was necessary for all parents and guardians to inculcate fear of God into their children and wards.
According to him, “The children are the future leaders, so parents must not fail in this direction, our responsibilities goes beyond just housing, feeding and providing shelter for them”.
Another teacher, Mrs. Francisca Eze of Victory Primary School in Ehor, called on government at all levels to keep investing in the educational sector, adding that education is key to the development and success of the country.
Eze said that parents also should keep assisting their children while at home and ensure they bring them up in God’s way.
In Abudu the administrative headquarters of Orihiomwon Local Government Area of Edo State, the Head of Local Government Administration (HOLGA) and acting Chairman of the council, Dr. Francis Odigie was on ground to celebrate with the children as he mounted the podium to recieve salute from the over 10 schools that participated in a match past at the council secretariat, venue for the event.
He said children should be celebrated as the leaders of tommorow. He lauded the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration for creating the platform for children of the state to have access to basic education through the establishment of EDOBEST which has introduced technology to learning.
The Education Secretary of the council Aghedo Gideon expressed joy for this celebration saying the children has never had it so good. He emphasized that the collaboration between SUBEB and Edo State Government has improved the education system in Edo State.
In Auchi Edo North, SUBEB focused its celebration on achieving global standard literacy, numeracy skills in the state. It challenged leaders and parents to equip children to enable them compete globally and emerge employable in the digital age and age to come.
“All the children of Edo represent our future, and we owe it to ourselves and our children to invest wisely and build the right institutions, system and processes”.
Mrs. Joy Ojobor who represented the SUBEB Chairman said launching a campaign to make every child in the state a “Reading Champion” is to encourage the culture of reading among children of the state.
“The ability to read is the key that unlocks vast knowledge and capacity that is responsible for shaping a secured future”.
At Ubiaja and other locations across other four local government area of Esan Central senatorial District, the celebration continued with match past, cultural displays and other activities. EDSG in collaboration with SUBEB also restated its commitment to increase school enrollment in both primary and secondary schools in the State.
Parents were urged not to discourage children from attending classes as the governor remained committed in its efforts to direct resources towards the education and welfare of all Edo children. The parents were told that Edo state continues to lead with the lowest number of “out of school children” in the the country.
Across the 18 Local Government Area of Edo State, on a day meant for them, children expressed their happiness and readiness to step in to leadership positions to pilot the affairs of the State. Some pupils of Uwa Model Primary School, Ikhuenerio including Victory Egberanmwen and Perpetual Osaretin could not hide their joy.
According to Victory, “I feel so happy to be here to compete and have fun with other pupils. I thank the governor for EDOBEST which has made my school look so beautiful.”
“I will like to thank Governor Obaseki for the gift of books, I feel so excited to be part of this year’s Children’s Day celebration,” Perpetual said.
This is the first children’s day since the outbreak of Coronavirus and looking at it now, it shows that we are overcoming the COVID, as education stakeholders were all happy that Children’s Day celebration held in 2021.
The stakeholders also expressed hope that with the launch of “Every Child a Reading Champion” during the 2021 children’s day in Edo State, the dividends will soon be realized in pupils as they would become not only fluent readers but champions in all aspects of academic disciplines.