The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has tasked ECOWAS to prioritise education in its regional development agenda.
The Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone Mr. Dennis Zulu, made the call at a ministerial meeting on the Child Policy and Plan of Action in Abuja.
Mr. Zulu urged policy makers and other stakeholders to effectively address multiple barriers faced by children, particularly girls, in accessing education.
Education must be the foundation for ECOWAS development agenda; education empowers children across the region and helps them achieve their maximum potential, Mr Zulu emphasised.
Research shows that the rate of child or forced marriage is highest among girls with little or no formal education; schools create protective environments against child marriage, he explained.
Mr. Zulu said that forced labour and child marriage were development, humanitarian and security challenges that required concerted efforts to eliminate.
All West African governments can develop and implement national action plans to end child labour and child marriages and support girls who are already married, he said.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou, charged member states on the implementation of the reviewed Child Policy and Strategic Plan of Action.
The Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender, in ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Siga Jagne who represented Mr. Brou said the reviewed policy and action plan was aimed at tackling issues relating to the vulnerabilities of children and end child marriage.
He said that emerging challenges in the region necessitated the need for the commission to examine, review and develop a new child policy and plan of action.
Mr. Brou added that the commission was able to formulate a declaration and roadmap to prevent and respond to child marriage.
The ECOWAS Commission is committed to prioritising, mobilising and allocating the necessary resources to address the multifaceted issues affecting children in West Africa.
The ECOWAS management is placing emphasis on coordinated approach and implementation between the departments to leverage and scale up our interventions,” he said.
He further called on participants to consider the frameworks as a resource and guide to be implemented based on local priorities.
On her part, the Regional Director, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, said the review would present a platform to scale-up action on the regional child rights agenda.
Ms. Poirier who was represented by Mr. Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Nigeria Representative urged member states to increase investments in girls’ education and strategic child rights outlined in the Child Policy to facilitate regional development.
The ministers endorsed the reviewed documents which would be presented to the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State and Government.
The reviewed ECOWAS Child Policy and Strategic Plan of Action would cover the period of 2019 to 2023.
Source: Voice of Nigeria