Day of African Child: Africa focusses on education for all

 

The African Union (AU) on June 16 marked the Day of African Child 2014 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital.

The Day presents an opportunity for all stakeholders on children's rights, including government, non-governmental and international entities, to reflect on issues affecting children, according to AU.

The Day of the African Child 2014 was commemorated under the theme “A Child Friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa”.

AU said it aims to ensure the achievement of Article 11 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).

In his remarks at the opening of the celebration today, Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, reiterated that AU celebrates the Day of African Child on June 16 every year in commemoration of the 1976 protests by school children in Soweto, South Africa.

The students protested against an education designed to further the purposes of the apartheid regime.

The AU Assembly in 1991 passed a resolution designating June 16 as a Day for the celebration of the African child.

This year’s celebrations at the AU included children's performance of songs, drama, play, talent show as well as question and answer sessions among others.

In his opening remarks, Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International, noted that all children have the right to an education and the future of the African continent, and the world depends on them having access to that right.

“At Plan, we are calling on the AU to call on their member states and remind them of their commitments and responsibility to promote, protect and fulfil the right to education for all children,” he said.

“We are calling on African governments to take action for you, their children and for their own countries, and invest achieving quality education for all. And to target those investments on those children who need it the most, girls, children with disabilities, rurally isolated and those affected by conflict,” he added. 

June 16 is the Day of the African Child – a day that was set aside 23 years ago by the African Union, then the OAU, in line with resolution CM/Res. 1290 (XL), to remember and commemorate the lives of the innocent children who were massacred in the Soweto uprising of 1976, while demanding their rights to racism-free education, in the then apartheid South Africa.

The commemoration of the Day of the African Child gives us the opportunity to reflect on the plight of children in Africa.

It is a day for us all to think about those children who are caught in conflict or trapped in abuse and exploitation, and about the daily violations of their basic rights as children, as well as to think about the future of a hopeful African society.

Thus, the Day provides us the space and opportunity to mobilise all our efforts towards the welfare of children, who constitute the backbone of our continent's future.

More than just a commemoration, the Day of the African Child seeks to draw the attention of all actors involved in improving the condition of children on the continent and to unite their efforts to combat the ills that plague the daily lives of children. It is also an occasion for governments, international institutions and communities to deal with this delicate condition of children by organising activities to promote the rights of the child.

The theme of the 2014 Day of the African Children chosen by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is: “A child-friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa”.

Its general objective is to call the attention of African governments to their responsibilities in respect of ensuring children's right to education in accordance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Children's Charter).

The 2014 theme is even more significant in light of the fact that the Soweto uprising which the day commemorates was a protest for an appropriate education. It is further significant in the sense that the theme is on one of the most important rights of the child, the key to appreciating and utilising all other rights. Education, in the broader sense, is of prime significance in the communication of that which is central to the transformation of the human mind.

It sets in motion the latent faculties of a person and enables him or her to become self-critical and observant. Through education children learn to cope with their immediate environment and life's challenges; are equipped to understand the world around them and how to access knowledge, skills and information which may provide them with the means of earning a living.

This year, the Day of the African Child comes at a time Nigeria and the continent are grappling with the kidnapping of more 200 Nigerian school girls by the rebel group Boko Haram. Thousands of more African children are caught in conflict situations on the continent where they either face physical and sexual abuse or are being used a child soldiers. – Nampa-Xinhua-Online

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