June 16 marked the Day of the African child, the day when thousands of innocent children went into the streets to voice their concerns over the inferiority of education provided to black children in South-Africa.
While Africa commemorates the day, governments should reflect on how they are progressively moving towards the realisation of Articles 4, 11, 14, 19, 21, 24, 26 and 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, writes Petronella Murowe, training and capacity-building specialist in the Economic Governance Programme of African democracy institute, Idasa. The right to education, health and social protection are some of the key aspects that governments need to progressively allocate resources to as they are basic to child development.
This year, the theme is “Planning and Budgeting for Children: our Collective Responsibility”. As we reflect on this theme, how much is trickling down from the national budget to reach and provide for children’s needs. Children in Africa struggle for survival, are victims of war, and often have to walk at least 30kms to reach the nearest school and clinic. Access to medication and other basic services remains a challenge, despite government putting in place various child protection laws.
Even as countries like Lesotho and Botswana expand access to primary education through the provision of free primary education, their efforts are undermined by the failure to address the problem of culturally ingrained practices such as child labour. In countries in political transition, like Zimbabwe, children only received less than sixty days of schooling in 2009. Girls in Mali and Senegal are still forced into early marriages and have very low levels of education; access to vaccination among some groups in Nigeria is still very low, putting children at increased risk of disease such as polio, a disease that has been eradicated in most countries.
While children and all of Africa celebrated 16 June, did we truly recognise children in an honest and meaningful way? Or do we continue to look at them as voiceless souls? While children across the African continent celebrated this international day of recognition, the true day of recognition is yet to come. Recognition and value for the true worth of the African child will come only when their voices are truly heard and governments make an investment in their collective future. The day to celebrate will be when governments, communities and families begin to create the space for children to be both heard and seen and make a contribution on decisions that affect them. We will truly celebrate when there is a decline in the number of children living in poverty; an end to social inequality; child trafficking; child slavery and other gross violations of children’s rights.
Filed under: Economic Governance | Tagged: Botswana, child labour, child slavery, child trafficking, children's rights, Economic Governance, Lesotho, Planning and Budgeting, social inequality | Leave a comment »