By Kebba Secka
The Child Protection Alliance (CPA) together with schools under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) as well as other partners in the promotion and protection of children’s welfare on Saturday, December 18 celebrated Day of the African Child.
The event was held at the FIFA Goal Project Conference in Yarambamba, West Coast Region.
The then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and now called Africa Unity
(AU) set aside June 16 to reflect on the school children that were brutally killed in the streets of Soweto in South Africa in 1976. The children on this day took to the streets demanding amongst other things the right to be taught in their own language leading the government’s security agents to crack down on them, killing hundreds of children.
As customary, actors in child rights promotion and protection convened with various stakeholders including the government and non-governmental organisations to discuss the challenges faced and the way forward for children.
The topic chosen for this year’s celebration is: “30 years after the adoption of the African Charter, accelerate the implementation of agenda 2040, Africa fits for all children.”
In his keynote address, the coordinator of CPA, Lamin Fatty, dilated on the significance of the day.
“Day of the African Child is a day of deeper reflection in the history of Africa. It marks the day in 1976 when children protested to be taught in their own language and were brutally murdered in the streets of Soweto,” Fatty said.
Fatty commended the Government of The Gambia for ratifying the African Charter by enacting the Children’s Act of 2005, and creating a gender and children’s welfare unit at the Ministry of Women and Children Welfare. He equally challenged them to strictly enforce all laws and policies that protect and promote children’s welfare.
According to CPA’s coordinator, children are being exploited or abused almost on a daily basis, and there are laws to address such menace.
“Every other day or moment, children are being exploited and also being reported in the mainstream media, yet, there remains an enforceability challenge,” he remarked.
Mr Fatty recommended a minute silence prayer for the children who lost their lives in an inferno that occurred at Bilal Boarding School in West Coast Region, sometime this year.
The observance of the day was characterised by drama, poetry and drawing among Lower and Upper Basic Schools across the country.
The participating schools in the lower basic category were St. Edward LBS in Bwiam, West Coast Region, Bakau Newtown in Kanifing Municipality and Govi, a school for the visually impaired and hard of hearing also located in Kanifing.
For the upper basic school category, SOS, located in Kanifing, Pakalinding in Lower River Region, Janjangbureh in Central River Region (CRR) north, Charjel UBS in CRR south and Bureng in Lower River Region respectively, competed amongst themselves.
There was no loser as participants were presented with certificates and trophies to acknowledge their performance.
Generally, schools’ drama teams, poets and some members of the media who promote children’s right stories were presented certificates in recognition of their roles.
For a mental picture portrait, each participating school acted distinctively on a play that exposed an illegal act of child abuse, exploitation and early marriage.
The moral lessons of each play, performed in a spectacular and passionate child’s centre, empowered by faces of smile and inspirations from teachers of child’s rights coordination and to child’s protection alliance officials were clarion calls for the strict enforcement of child rights laws to be able to attain AU’s 2040 agenda, the Africa fits for all children.