African Union commissioner: we must listen to the voices of our young people

Day of the African Child

By Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission.


Nearly 40 years have passed since the massacre of 200 children in the streets of Soweto who stood up for their right to an equal education – their right to realise true hopes, dreams and potential. 

Each year, the African Union commemorates their courageous struggle on June 16 – the Day of the African Child.

With nearly 30million children in Africa still out of school, we were reminded this year that this fight, for which these children made the ultimate sacrifice, is not yet finished. 

On this Day of the African Child, the African Union turned to those who will become our future leaders, caretakers and stewards of our beautiful continent – our youth.

On June 16, I stood in solidarity with over 1000 children who demanded the right to quality education for all in the grand halls of the African Union.

I was inspired listening to the voices of these children, relentless in their mandate to world leaders to fund education and fix our global crisis. Nothing less than the well being of our society rests upon this call to action.

As the African Union carries out its 50-year vision – Agenda 2063 – it is clear that if we are to be successful, we must heed the just call to action put forth by these youth. 

With little over 500 days until the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals, we must understand that their call to action is in fact the cornerstone to the success of Agenda 2063 – the foundation for a prosperous and united Africa.

As we implement this plan of action, the African Union will focus on people-centered programming reflecting the fact that over 40% of Africa’s population are children.

We look forward to adopting the resolution put forth by these audacious children and youth and partnering with organisations like A World at School to ensure that our promise is kept. The time to invest in the education of our children, to invest in our future, is now.

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