“To every child – I dream of a world where you can laugh, dance, sing, learn, live in peace, and be happy”. (Malala Yousafzai).
Africa, being one of the largest continents in the world is home to over 628 million children and youth. The everyday life of the African child is unpredictable, there are times they need to pick up roles and responsibilities that are above their abilities. Though these roles are though, most of them have come out heroic and that is why since June,16,1991, The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated in remembrance of the children who were murdered in Soweto, South Africa in 1976 for protesting against an unfair education system. It is a day to reflect on how far the African child has come in terms of education, social justice, and living standards and to put in place measures that would help in the actualization of the Agenda 2040, a Charter which has been adopted by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child established under the Articles 32 and 33 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The charter aspires to establish that by 2040:
- An effective child-friendly national legislative, policy, and institutional framework is in place in all member states.
- Every child’s birth and other vital statistics are registered.
- Every child survives and has a healthy childhood.
- Every child grows up well-nourished and with access to the basic necessities of life.
- Every child benefits fully from quality education
- Every child is protected against violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse.
- Children benefit from a child-sensitive criminal system
- Every child is free from the impact of armed conflicts and other disasters of emergency situations.
- African children’s views matter.
This year is coined under the theme ‘Mainstreaming Agenda 2040 into the National Development Framework’ in line with the continental theme ’30 years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children. This year we are increasing our pace in development and to ensure that Africa is fit and safe for all growing children.
In accordance with this, Starlight Foundation has continually advocated that the street is not an abode for our children. The growth of violence on our streets is very alarming and what we seek to represent in their case is the vast number of talents and human resources wasting off on our streets. That is not the kind of picture we want the African child to be seen in. Look all around Africa: In Nigeria school going girls are being abducted daily and a huge number of them being forced into early marriages. The same can be said about Ghana and other parts of Africa, child labour has become a norm and abuse of children’s rights is being overlooked. In a period of a global pandemic, such instances have been on a rise. This time our children cannot be in school and thus are subjected to rape, abuse, female genital mutilation, teenage pregnancy, and many more. The average African child who gets the chance to be in school has less to no proper learning materials. Our children go to school barefooted, on a hungry stomach, and crossing many miles just to be in school. Many brilliant minds have been made to halt their education and face the world at an early stage.
The world has changed drastically and we need to prepare the African child to compete in the world they are growing in. We need to embrace new approaches to education and recognize that they would suffer in the world they are unable to fit in. Let’s not teach our children to keep mute when they are abused all in the name of avoiding shame and protecting family names. The law clearly has more room to punish abusers of the right of children.
In this spirit, Starlight Foundation will continue to be the voice of all children in every way. This is also to entreats us all to step up our actions for the welfare of our children. If a child becomes an asset to the world, it doesn’t benefit only the family but the community as a whole. Every child has the potential to be great, what is missing is a conducive environment fit for self-actualization. That environment is what we will provide them now as the world awaits them.
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