By Africa AHA News July 15, 2014
On the 16th of June every year, the African Union and its Partners celebrate the Day of the African Child (DAC), 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 brutal response of the apartheid security agencies to the unarmed students’ protests resulted in the death of a number of them.
The 1976 protests contributed greatly to the eventual collapse of the apartheid regime. In 1991, the African Union Assembly passed a resolution designating 16 June as a Day for the celebration of the African child.
On the 17th June 2014, nine hundred (900) children and ninety – seven (997) adults commemorated the Day of the African Child under the global theme: “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa”.
Education is the lifelong process of learning which occurs in both formal and informal settings. The promotion of regular school attendance and reduction of ‘drop-out’ rates is considered a part of ensuring the right to education, as is the protection of children from performing any work that is likely to interfere with their attendance to school.
People in attendance were urged to remember the atrocities committed against school children in the then Apartheid South Africa. Black school children stood for their rights to proper education. The children’s rights must be promoted and respected by all.
During this intervention, Dr. Lawrence Mbagson (UNHCR Representative) educated the community on the importance of commemorating the Day of the African Child and urged children to utilize the school facility for the betterment of their future.
A focus on the right to education for children in Africa is timely for a number of other reasons. To begin with, the African Children’s Charter recognizes a right to education for all children, and calls upon States Parties to ensure the fulfillment of this right; education is critically linked to Africa’s quality and magnitude of development and is therefore a key component of Africa’s development agenda.
Comrade Nkrumah Mushelenga, the Commissioner for Refugees under the Ministry of Home – Affairs and Immigration encouraged parents to teach African culture to the children so as to remind them of their origin.
To paraphrase the speaker, Comrade Nkrumah Mushelenga said that, education is at the forefront of Africa’s role in the global future and its competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world.
Also, education is a tool of empowerment for children in Africa, enabling them to achieve their maximum potential and enhancing their capacity to benefit from other entitlements that promote their wellbeing. Indeed, universal and quality education is a global concern reflected in numerous global agreements and investment plans.
A week prior to the commemoration of the Day of the African Child, sport events for children (12-17 years)were organized and nineteen (19) soccer of which eight (08) girls soccer teams and eleven (11) boys soccer teams played fifteen (15) games in terms of six (06) games for girls and nine (09) for boys.
Athletics competition was held in 100m for both female and male on June 16, 2014 and seventy – eight (78) children in terms of thirty six (36) female and forty two (42) male participated in the tournament. Winners received a token of appreciation
The 02 best players (female and male) of the soccer tournament and the four (04) best outstanding in the athletic competition (02 female and 02 male) were awarded with prices
Four (04) banners were printed with the message that reads: “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children of Africa”, “Education Empowers, Liberates and Develops”
A total number of one thousand five hundred and fifty (1,550) gift bags made up of juice, sweets, chips, fruit/biscuits, balloons in a plastic bags were distributed to both school -going and out of school youth.
The Day of the African Child (DAC) presents an opportunity for all stakeholders on children’s rights, including government, non-governmental and international entities, to reflect on issues affecting children in the region.
The DAC is an opportunity, a moment to take stock of the progress made and the outstanding challenges towards the full realization of the rights of children in the region. Some of the challenges Africa is facing as a continent is the number of out of school children especially in some sub Saharan African countries.