June 15, 2018

Day of the African Child 2018: leaving no one behind

Children eat their lunch during the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

Photo credit: Adriane Ohanesian / Theirworld

Events are held each year to promote children's rights on the continent where nearly half of the population are under the age of 18.

Almost half of all the people in Africa are children or adolescents - 580 million of them. On current trends, half of all the world's under-18s will by African by the end of the century.

So the Day of the African Child tomorrow is about a huge and massively important section of the world's population.

Sadly, a large percentage of them are not getting the education or early childhood development they need to succeed. The highest rates of out-of-school children are in sub-Saharan Africa - more than one in five of those aged six to 11 and a third of  children between 12 and 14.

Of the 15 million girls of primary age not in school around the world, an incredible nine million live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Day of the African Child is a great day for all children in Africa and brings to life most commitments undertaken by African countries to fulfil the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Gilbert Ngaira of the Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children, writing for Their News in 2017

Day of the African Child is held on June 16 each year to promote children's rights, with events going on around the world. 

The date honours the memories of students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting against education injustice and inequality in the apartheid regime.

The 2018 theme is “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” - targeting those who are not benefiting from the economic growth and opportunities across the continent.

Here's a look at some of the issues, challenges and successes that Their News has reported on since last year's Day of the African Child. Plus a glimpse at some of the events being held tomorrow.

The Government of Liberia has reviewed the education sector

Photo credit: United Nations

Liberia's president launched a 10-year plan to deliver quality education for all of the country's children.  George Weah - the former football star who was elected leader in January - said schooling was a key pillar of his "pro-poor agenda".

A huge overhaul of Sierra Leone's education system is underway. New President Julius Maada Bio revealed that free primary and secondary schooling - promised in his campaign - will start in September. Education's share of the annual spending budget will be almost doubled from 11% to 20%.

The World Food Programme urged governments in West Africa to invest more money in school meal programmes. It partners with about 40 countries in Africa, providing daily nutrition to more than nine million schoolchildren - a strong incentive for families to consistently send their children to school.

Girls are least likely to be in school in South Sudan, with nearly three-quarters of school-age girls out of the classroom, followed by Central African Republic, Niger and Afghanistan. Nine of the top 10 countries where girls fail to get an education are in Africa, a report said.

More than 700 girls and young women have been learning technical skills at six new Code Clubs in Tanzania. Theirworld teamed up with Voith to launch them last year.

Photo credit: Theirworld / Mticka Albas

At a major funding summit in Senegal, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo urged African countries to take more responsibility - as many low-income nations promised to increase spending on schools. Zimbabwe committed to increase spending on education from 35% to 39% of public expenditure. Malawi from 24% to 31% and Sao Tome and Principe to rise to 25%.

Experts in early years care called on African governments to increase their support for the youngest children. They said leaders should "make serious intervention in early childhood development" at an international conference in Tanzania.

Almost 1.3 million youth and children in 35 countries were taught basic coding skills during Africa Code Week. The highest number of participants was 390,000 in Cameron and 378,000 in Morocco.

Africa's education, skills and vocational learning systems must be transformed if children and youth are to learn the skills they need for the jobs of today and the future, according to a major report by UNICEF.

Students celebrate Day of the African Child last year in Isiolo County, Kenya

Photo credit: Gilbert Ngaira

Celebrations on June 16

Zimbabwe: The latest session of the Child Parliament will be opened, giving youth the opportunity to lobby for policies.

Ireland: A celebration of music and cultures in Cork, including drummers from Burundi and performers from Ethiopia and Congo.

Botswana: The African Women Leadership Academy will host inspirational talks at the University of Botswana by entrepreneurs, sport, media and corporate leaders.

Cameroon: Child Protection Village set up at the National Museum in Yaounde featuring child rights organisations.

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