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Minister Denies Advocating Child Labour For Toothpick Production, Cites Vocational Training

Kennedy was responding to reports credited to her where she purportedly proposed that Nigeria model China in the involvement of schoolchildren to produce commodities like toothpicks on Fridays.


Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy, appears on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, October 9, 2023.

 

The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy, has denied advocating child labour in her proposition of local toothpick production, saying her position has always been about empowering schoolgirls.

Kennedy, who appeared on Monday’s edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, was responding to reports credited to her where she purportedly proposed that Nigeria model China in the involvement of schoolchildren to produce commodities like toothpicks on Fridays.

“I never said the children will be used for the production of toothpicks. I don’t know why you people keep mentioning toothpicks,” she said.

Kennedy reiterated her commitment to providing vocational training opportunities for children, emphasising that she never suggested using children for toothpick production.

“I never said the children should produce toothpicks. I said I want to put vocational machines in schools where these children will learn skills,” she said.

The women affairs minister emphasised the importance of vocational education, highlighting that these centres would empower young girls to acquire skills that could help them become financially independent by the time they reach 18.

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She stressed that her vision involves creating a factory-like environment within these centres, where both practical training and the production of useful items would take place, generating income to support the student’s education.

“I equally said I will not bring just ordinary people to teach them; I will have it as a factory there so that while they are being taught, the factory can equally be producing that same thing and be making small money to empower those girls when they leave school and turn 18,” she said.

The lawyer also cited an example of a school, where similar vocational centres have successfully taught various skills, including plumbing and furniture production.

“I will tell you there’s a school in Dariki. I have said it before and I’m saying it again, I hope the Nigerian people won’t get bored of my repetition of these things.

“This school I went personally to visit has a lot of acquisition centres, they have for plumbers, they have for people that produce chairs. These children go there and a lot of girls are planning to be plumbers in the future,” she said.

Kennedy encouraged the media to promote such initiatives that align with the national agenda.

 

‘One Chance’ Attack

Meanwhile, the minister has reacted to the tragic events resulting in the death of an Abuja resident, Greatness Olorunfemi.

The young lady was stabbed on a commercial bus she boarded along the Maitama/Kubwa Highway, an incident locally referred to as ‘one-chance’, before being thrown out of the vehicle.

Though she was rushed to Maitama General Hospital by Good Samaritans, the facility did not attend to her for not providing a police report.

Kennedy expressed her concerns about this incident and vowed to investigate it further.

“I’m heading to the hospital. I’m going there to fight for the late girl they abandoned, so that we make sure it never happens again,” she said.

The minister stressed her commitment to ensuring that the incident does not reoccur, adding that she would personally visit the hospital to advocate justice for the late girl.