Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, on Thursday inaugurated the state Advocacy and Community Engagement Forum to raise the level of enrolment of children in school over the next five years.
Our correspondent reports that the forum would develop a five-year plan covering 2018-2022, for use by UNICEF and the government to address issues of school enrolment, child health and survival.
The plan is expected to upscale access to routine immunization, antenatal care, exclusive breast feeding, net school enrolment, hygiene and provision of safe drinking water, among others, in the state.
Bagudu said the forum should work closely with traditional and religious leaders across the state to mobilise residents against practices that result in cholera outbreaks and other preventable diseases.
“I want UNICEF to value our local practices; in all our villages and communities, you will find Muslims and Christians going about their lives according to their religious teachings and providing education to their people in their own ways.
“Even if they are doing it wrongly, you should work with them so as to succeed in the advocacy and achieve the aim by the specific period,” he said.
He commended UNICEF for its successful interventions in the state, and advised all stakeholders to work together in addressing the challenges.
Earlier, UNICEF Chief, Sokoto Field Office, Muhammad Muhiuddin, said handbooks had been developed with inputs from Muslims and Christian clerics as well as experts addressing various issues from the religious perspective.
He said the handbooks cover such areas as nutrition, hand washing, sanitation and hygiene, education and child protection.
“Verses from the Qur’an and Hadith and the Bible related to maternal and child survival, development and protection are carefully selected and compiled, providing the spiritual basis for promoting the big impact interventions,” he said.
According to him, community and religious leaders will lead the campaign of providing new opportunities to ensure that children in the state get the best options in life for their survival, development and growth to full potentials.