Day of the African Child reminds us that African children deserve a good education.
By Constance Ndeleko
The Day of the African Child is celebrated every year on June 16th to commemorate the 16th June, 1976 students uprising in Soweto, South Africa to protest poor quality education for the black student.
DAC was initiated in 1991 by the Organization of African Union OAU – current AU. This year DAC will be marked under the theme: “30 years after the adoption of the charter: Accelerate Implementation of Agenda 2040 for An ‘Africa Fit for Children’, “.
This day also draws attention to the lives of African children today. It shows how we are building a resilience frame work to work around challenges that we are facing in the continent and pushing strong towards accelerating on the agenda of enhancing quality basic education for all African children.
Approximately half of the African population is made of children below the age of eighteen. Sadly, the majority of these children do not acquire early childhood development they need. They do not get basic education since most of them drop out of school before the age of ten. A large percentage also lacks enough food, shelter, and even clothing (Calendarlabs.com)
These celebrations, continue being a significant improvement in the education sector of different African countries. For instance, most sub-Saharan countries offer free primary educations to all children in public schools. Countries like Kenya and Seychelles have rolled up programs to provide laptop computers to primary school students.
Investing in children’s education is vital in generating and sustaining broad-based economic growth. Experiences in childhood enormously contribute to the adults the kids will turn into. Failure to positively contribute to our children today in areas of education, nutrition and health will negatively impact on the economy of future generations.
Giving children Hope through education is ensuring that they have quality basic skills needed to survive and thrive; Hope is building a strong foundation for children even in their early years.
Hope has a unique power to propel individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to action and can sustain their energies on the road to achieve everything they value.
The African Committee is cognizant of the importance of the Day of the African Child (DAC) as an advocacy tool for enhancing the visibility of the Charter as well as promoting children’s rights and welfare issues.
DAC was instituted in 1991 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then OAU instituted in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa.
Since then, the OAU and its successor, the AU, have used the DAC to remember these children, to celebrate children in Africa as well as to inspire a sober reflection and action towards addressing the plethora of challenges that children in Africa face on a daily basis.
The DAC thus celebrates the children of Africa and calls for serious introspection and commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges facing children across the continent.
In 2016, the African Committee adopted “Agenda 2040: Fostering an Africa fit for children”- a 25-year agenda for the long -term and strategic progress in implementing children’s rights in Africa.
Agenda 2040 provides a child-centered focus based on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which highlights children’s rights and welfare concerns in Paragraph 53.
In brief, Agenda 2063 envisions an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
It is guided by seven aspirations, and aspiration six calls for an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children. This aspiration informed the adoption of Agenda 2040.
Agenda 2040 is guided by the following 10 Aspirations. Goal six speaks on the need for; every child benefits fully from quality education-adoption of policies on early childhood education, Free and compulsory education and education for girls by States Parties.
Aspiration 6 also highlights challenges faced in the education sector with Low national allocation of GDP to education. According to the World Bank, among the few countries have allocated at least 9% of their GDP is Botswana.
Continued existence of gender inequality that impacts on girls’ education especially in sub-Saharan Africa with the highest rates of exclusion for girls. The outbreak of the Covid-19 has also affected the overall enjoyment of the right to education.
Through DAC 2021, the Committee affirms that an accelerated implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children should be embraced by all Member States in their domestic jurisdictions. This will be done in consultation with the African Union.
The Committee also envisages the following results from the commemoration of the DAC in 2021:
- Continental commemoration of the DAC hosted by an AU Member State.
- Engaged participation of the Committee in popularizing Agenda 2040.
- African governments publicly reaffirm commitments.
- Better engagement and integration of the ACRWC and the ACERWC with other organs of the AU.
DAC celebration events are held in two-thirds of AU Member States.
Education firms up hope for children to grow and understand diversity and have their own identity. Hope promotes an affirmative course of action.
To hope is to give yourself to the future, and that commitment to the future makes the present habitable. Our children are our hope let’s make their future brighter through provision of their basic needs.