According to the National Plan of Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria, an orphan is a child (below the age of 18) who has lost one or both parents, irrespective of the cause of death. Nigeria has one of the highest populations of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in the world (OVC) which is 20 million of the Nigerian population. Causal factors of orphaning have being identified to entail: HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, sectarian and ethnic conflict while large numbers of children are made vulnerable due to poverty, conflict and gender inequality.
Six categories of orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) were identified in the study to include:
- Children that have lost one parent (Single orphans)
- Children that have lost the two parents (Double orphans)
- Children whose parent(s) is/are chronically ill
- Children living in households where a chronically ill adult died recently
- Children living with old frail grand parents or guardians
- Children with disabilities
Among the categories of vulnerability, children with disabilities and double orphans are most vulnerable and most times have lowest enrolment rates for school and health services.
Sadly many children under the category of OVC continue to be deprived of fundamental access to basic needs such as health services and education. Education is important in the development of a child while good health is paramount to a child’s survival.
Banner Unto Nations (BUN) Foundation hope to help create a system for sustainable educational and health services whereby comprehensive merit or situational based funding system for OVCs can be developed. In addition, empower parents/care givers financially to afford the school needs of their wards. This can be through setting up a community operated financial system for men and women whereby they become accountable to one another and are enable to save to set up money-making venture. OVC can learn chosen vocational skills after high school studies that can financially enable them in the future and help them pursue higher education. This will be modified from time to time as we engage the community and see what is realizable. In addition build inclusive educational system particularly for children with disabilities that will cater for their special needs.
Banner Unto Nations Foundation plans on using a systemic approach beyond classroom settings to engage OVCs currently in school and who are at the verge of dropping out. In addition, to ensure OVCs who are presently not in school get the opportunity to be educated.