By Kevin Anyonge
As the world marked the Universal Children’s Day on 20th November 2017, this was a great opportunity to listen and interact with children on issues affecting them. This saw children representatives from various counties converge in Nairobi to engage directly with duty bearers and present their issues, and to demand for commitment from duty bearers on what must be done to address their issues especially through public planning and budgeting. This issues are documented in the Kenya Children Charter at county and national level.
A number of non-state actors collected views from children with an objective of documenting children issues that should be provided for in government plans and budgets. This was in acknowledgement of the reality that an opportunity exists in Kenya presently at the National Level for influencing the finalization off the 3rd medium term plan of vision 2030, which is the primary blue print for the implementation of the sustainable development goals, at the county level another opportunity exists for influencing the development of the 2nd county integrated for influencing the development plans, a process which is already on-going. An estimate of over 40,000 children from 31 counties participated in the exercise.
The formation of the children charter was built on three key questions directly asked to children
- What makes you proud to be a young citizen?
- What makes you sad about the problems that you and other children face in Kenya
- What can our leaders do to make sure that every child in Kenya feels safe, cared for and confident about their future?
The findings of what makes children proud were, 33.6% of the children interviewed were proud of the provision of free primary education in the country. The children also cherish the reality that they are Kenyans with 30% of them saying that being Kenyan citizens made them feel proud. The peaceful environment that the country has enjoyed over the years led to 27.6% being proud of the relative peace that has enabled them continue thriving.
Children raised several concerns, most of them talked about child abuse with 30.6% talking about various forms of child abuse, with child labor taking a high percentage of the abuse violations as mentioned by the children.18.2% of the children raised a number of concerns related to education including infrastructure, lack of schools fees resulting to drop outs and the many children who cannot go to school.15.4% of children were concerned about insecurity both at home and in schools, while several children alluded to terrorist attacks that the country has witnessed in recent years.13.1% of the children cited lack of enough food as an issue that makes them sad as drought has been experienced in the country in the recent times.
Recommendations to the government
- 33% of the children have an expectation that the government should do something on education, a number of issues ranged from construction of sponsoring children from families that were unable to raise school fees.
- 8% of the children urged the government to enhance the protection of child rights.
- 5% of the children urged the government to invest in security as it was a major concern.
- 9% of the children want the food situation addressed
The stakeholders Save the Children, Child Fund Kenya, World Vision Kenya and Mtoto News who steered in gathering views of children in making of the charter shared same sentiments of working together with children at grassroots level by making them participate in policy formation by both the county government and national government, through this the children voices will be heard and challenges resolved.
Kevin Anyonge is a Producer and Writer at Mtoto News
Mtoto News is an online platform of news, information and resources that aims at making significant change in the lives of children by making them visible. Read mtotonews.com or follow us on twitter and Facebook @mtotonews