DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD 2024

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The Day of the African Child was Instituted by the OAU in 1991 in memory of an uprising of students in Soweto on 16th June 1976. The students protested poor quality education and demanded to be taught in their languages. The Day of the African celebrates these children and their bravery on how they defended their rights.

Every year, the Day of the African child celebrates the commitment to address the needs and challenges of African Children. The theme of the commemoration is selected by the African Committee Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the child (ACERWC), the theme is then adopted by the Executive Council of the African Union.

The Day of the African Child focuses on the progress made in safeguarding the rights of the African child and impede essential realization of these rights. The theme for the year 2024 is, ‘’Education for all Children in Africa. Time is now.’’

This year’s theme aligns with the African Union theme: Educate an African fit for the 21st century, building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa.

Education is a right for all children regardless of their race, location, parental status, disability and gender. Education is not only a substantive right; it facilitates the realization of other rights of children and the elimination of discrimination of children.

Education plays a pivotal role to create a society that gives due regard to human rights, rule of law, and tolerance. When Africa invests in education in the right direction, it can prevent the proliferation of conflict and build capacity towards peace building. Emerging challenges of terrorism and radicalization mainly target children out of school, hence, by ensuring access to education and incorporating knowledge about the role of law in education, African nations will be better placed to prevent terrorism and radicalization.

An essential tool to fight violence and discrimination is education, due to the fact that children out of school are more exposed to abuse and exploitation such as child marriage and child labor compared to those in school and also education is a powerful instrument to change societal attitudes toward violence.

In 1990 UNESCO launched ‘’Education for all’’ to enhance access to education for all children, but unfortunately this concept for education for all is not a reality of many African Children. Statistics released by UNESCO reveal that 20% of children aged between 6-11 years are out of school, 30% of children aged between 12-14 years have dropped out of school and 60% of kids aged 15-17 years are school dropouts.

There are many issues that affect the enrollment and retention of the African Child in school and among them is, child poverty, gender-based discrimination and violence, conflict and crisis, disability, displacement, teenage pregnancy, lack of access to sanitary pads, high prevalence of sexual exploitation and abuse, lack of services for survivors of abuse, attacks on schools, recruitment of children in the armed forces, natural disasters, climate change, migration, inadequate funding in the educational sector, high violence in schools, corporal punishment, hidden costs attached to primary education, lack of hygiene facilities like clean water, lack of policies and strategies that respond to emerging situations, poverty and unemployment of parents and caregivers.

African children are also faced with diverse harmful practices that infringe on their right to education like child marriage, FGM, child labor, child begging among others.

Children groups that are adversely affected by these factors include; girls, children with disabilities, children on the move, children in conflict with the law, children in street situations, children without identity documents, marginalized children and children living in remote areas inter alia.

The impact of lack of education on children is holistic as it affects children’s right to development, excludes them from future work opportunities, resulting in an intergenerational cycle of poverty, and exposes them to further violence, abuse and exploitation.

Education is becoming a global common good due to increase in mobility and knowledge transfer, and if Africa wants to remain in the front, it must increase its investment in education.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has a dedicated provision in Article 29, about the aims of education, which include holistic development, respect for human rights, and enhanced sense of identity, socialization, and interaction with others as well as the environment.

Taking into consideration the aims of education, children’s education should include contents that aligns with their evolving capacity. Human rights education should be integrated into the education system whereby children are educated about their rights as enshrined in international instruments. Moreover, education in Africa should include aspects of peace and tolerance, sexual reproductive rights and skills development considering the various challenges the Continent and its children face.

One of the key outcomes of the continental celebration of the DAC 2024 is an outcome statement, which is a declaration of all the participants of the DAC celebration. The Outcome Declaration contains calls to the Committee, the African Union, Member States, NHRIs, CSOs and other relevant stakeholders. These outcome statements are reflections of children’s views and the participants of the DAC including, Member States, and can be used as advocacy tools. The calls on the Declaration will also be used as a reference by Member States in their reports on the commemoration of DAC.

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