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Remain positive, hopeful, inquisitive, author tells children

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Remain positive, hopeful and Inquisitive,” that is how the author of children’s storybook, Igho Goes to Farm, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, has charged children in Nigeria and around the globe as the world continues to battle the deadly Coronavirus pandemic that has temporarily disrupted lives and their educational aspirations.

Ajeluorou, who spoke with children in a virtual conference organised by Creative Alliance to mark the Children’s Day, which held last Wednesday, May 27, said children are the most precious and precocious human possessions in their innocence and lack most of the vices associated with adulthood.

He said, as a writer of children’s story and father, he was pained that children have been forced to remain at home instead of being in school to continue learning and exploring the world around them. He, however, assured there was no “need to panic” and advised them to “adjust to the new normal occasioned by the pandemic.”

Ajeluorou, however, said the Coronavirus disruption is a temporary one, and charged young ones to keep up their chin and be hopeful of a better world after COVID-19, noting that the pandemic is a dark night that would soon yield to daylight.

He commiserated with children all over the world and Nigeria, especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus and asked them to be of good cheer and pillars of support for their grieving families. He told them to see the losses as challenges to their various educational aspirations of making the world a better place so a pandemic like coronavirus does not ever recur to damage the human psyche.

The author, who is also a journalist with The Guardian newspapers, Lagos, Nigeria, also tasked children not to only indulge in mere playful activities while schools are closed, but to use the opportunity of the break from school to tune up their inquisitive antenna and learn all they could from home. He asked them to take advantage of virtual or remote learning currently on offer using all the electronic devices available to them at home.

Ajeluorou also said children could also use the break to learn something new besides academic subjects, like learning to play musical instruments, dance, craft, or other stimulating pastime activities that catch their fancy. Reading many storybooks like Igho Goes to Farm, he said, is also another healthy way of occupying their time gainfully.

He charged parents and guardians alike to assist their children and wards “to navigate the new normal and engage in meaningful activities rather than allow them idle away time while awaiting reopening of schools.”

For governments and policymakers in Nigeria, the author of Igho Goes to Farm said the only way they could write their names in gold would be to improve educational budgetary provisions for education to UNESCO’s recommended standard of 26 per cent. He said just as it had become glaring that the healthcare had been neglected over the years, so also has education been a victim of visionless leadership made manifest with inadequate public spending on education.

Ajeluorou noted that learning is fun and should be made so and that classrooms should be haven for youngsters and not where they sit on bare floors to learn. He added that such anti-child practice, as sitting on bare floors to learn, is a disincentive for children who would see it as punishment.

He further charged state governments to look the way of providing virtual learning facilities in schools while the fight against the pandemic is ongoing so as to minimise the loss of academic hours to pupils and students across board.

He also argued that now was the time for philanthropists and educational activists to put on their thinking caps and prod governments to their responsibilities to our children and make efforts to bridge the gaps in the provision of qualitative education.

According to him, “Now was the time to shore up the future of our children and provide them hope, that a better tomorrow is in sight. And we must do everything within our powers to ensure our children come out of the pandemic better citizens ready to take up their place in providing future direction for our country away from gloom and pessimism. Our children are our light and precious possessions and we must do all we can to guide them in these dark hours unto the light that beckons”.


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