By Chika Onyesi
With more than 64 million youths, constituting a larger percentage of Nigeria’s population, the need to address the challenges of education in the country has become more urgent.
This is according to UNICEF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, who decried the seeming gap in the number of educated youths in the country despite efforts to improve education outcomes in the country.
Peter Hawkins, represented by the UNICEF Chief of Basic Education, Dr. Euphrates Efosi was speaking at the maiden edition of Naija Youth Talk, organised by UNICEF to mark the 2019 International Literacy Day, with the theme: “The Nigeria We Want”.
According to Hawkins, such large number of uninformed population could become a national disaster if not properly managed.
“Young people today live in a world of unlimited potential. However, despite gains in the situation facing Nigerian children and young people in recent years, much remains to be done, too many Nigerians and young people are being left behind, especially when it comes to education’’.
While emphasising that Nigeria still has the highest number of out of school children at over 10.5 million, Hawkins disclosed that UNICEF’s intends to build on the momentum of young people, especially as it commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
‘‘Today’s conversation will allow young people to reflect on and celebrate the progress made by the youth to create the Nigeria we all want, as well as to build momentum and support for further action,’’ he added.
‘‘An environment that favors empowerment, entrepreneurship, employment and employability for young persons is what we need today. The Nigeria we want is a clarion call by young Nigerians who want to see a different Nigeria going forward’’.
Meanwhile the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, believes it is the responsibility of Nigerian’s youthful population to shape the kind of country they hope to inherit from the current crop of leaders.
He explained that irrespective of the many faults of Nigeria, ranging from Religion, ethnicity, language to nepotism, citizens must endeavour to love the country and accept it as home else Nigeria will never grow beyond the level it is today.
“Nigeria in her present state maybe unlovable but remember it is still our country. We must get to a point where we will say Nigeria with your entire fault, we love you’’he said.
While appealing to young persons to refrain from sharing fake news on the internet, he blamed the recent xenophobic attack on foreigners in South Africa on incidents of fake news generated by young people and circulated via social media.
“Do you know that since this xenophobicattacks began, most of the visuals that we see online are fake, some dating back five years, three and seven years and people are sharing it as if it is something currently happening in south Africa and you know what majority of those sharing it are youths.