13.3m children under 5 years risk poor development – UNICEF
by LAIDE AKINBOADE-ORIERE
September 27, 2017 | 2:38 am| | | Start Conversation
United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on Tuesday, said out of 22.2 million under-five children in Nigeria, over 13.3 million children (60%), are at risk of poor development due to lack of early childhood developmental support.
UNICEF representative Malick Fall, revealed this at the National Early Childhood Development, ECD, Conference 2017, organised by UNICEF, World Bank and Global Partnership For Education/Nigerian Partnership For Education project, tagged investing early in every Nigerian child, in Abuja.
He said over 31%(6 million), of children under 5 years are moderately or severely mal-nourished in Nigeria.
Meanwhile the Federal Government at the event said five Percent of the Universal Basic Education fund in the 2017 Budget will be committed to Early Childhood Education.
The theme, of the conference is ‘For Every Nigerian Child, Early Years Matter! #EatPlayLove
According to him, “Nigeria is putting its children at risk of under development, both physically and mentally, because critical national policies are not providing an adequate foundation for their growth. During the first years of a child’s life the brain grows rapidly, providing good nutrition, loving care and appropriate play provide solid foundations for a child’s learning – and eventual contribution to economic and social growth.
“A 2016 national survey indicated that 31% (about 6 m), of children under the age of 5 years are moderately or severely underweight in Nigeria. Stunting as a result of malnutrituion can cause irreversible physical and mental retardation. Even though exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life has clearly been shown to improve physical and mental development, the same survey revealed that only 24% of Nigerian children are exclusively breastfed for 6 months. With 90% of a child’s brain development occurring before the age of 5 years, early childhood experiences can have a profound impact on a child’s development can ultimately impact a country’s growth”.
In a presentation by ECD on the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGS, Rebello Britto, from UNICEF, said 60 percent (13.3m), of Nigeria under 5 years children are not achieving their human potentials.
The World Bank, WB, Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud, said the time has come to promote ultimate development of our children as possible.
“”The World Bank Group is committed to supporting the effort of the government of Nigeria in ensuring that every Nigerian child reaches his or her potential. This potential can be achieved by addressing the problem of inequality at birth and responding to the welfare rights of every child to access adequate nutrition, live in safe and secure environments and access to stimulation and learning opportunities”, he said.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu represented by the Permanent Secretary, Sunny Echono, said the Federal government has given approval to the Universal Basic Education Commission to conduct audit of UBEC, schools both Public and private schools.
The Minister stressed that the huge numbers of Out Of School Children in Nigeria remain a challenge that must be address.
He noted that the Conference will create new path for the development of Early Childhood Development Education.
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