By Cecil Mensah
The Country Director of Plan Ghana, one of the world’s oldest and largest child centered and community development Non -Governmental Organization (NGO) has expressed worries about the lack of child friendly educational facilities in the country, particularly in the rural areas.
Mr George Yorke, the Sponsorship Manager of Plan Ghana expressed this worries, when he delivered a speech on behalf Mr Prem Shukla, the Country Director of the NGO at the celebration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) on the theme: “A Child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa “in Accra.
He said the day marks an important day for all member-countries of the African Union (AU) to reflect on the living realities of children in the continent.
“More importantly is a day for us to deliberate on effective ways of confronting the numerous challenges that inhibits the realization of children’s rights within the continent” he said.
He said the day was commemorated to recall the 1976 uprising in Soweto-South Africa, when a protest by school children against apartheid-inspired education that resulted in brutal and deadly repression of thousands of unarmed young protesters by police.
He alerted that education is a fundamental human right and the most effective way to tackle poverty in every country.
It is therefore unpleasant to note that so many children on the continent are out of school with majority being girls he noted.
To reverse this negative trend, he called for the need for all member-countries to focus their resources and energies on education, which is the main vehicle for empowering African children to realize their full potential.
It is on this premise, he reminded all African leaders and duty bearers to ensure that all children gain access to quality education.
He said it is about time measures are put in place to eliminate the traditional practices and behaviors which tends to exclude some groups of children especially those with disabilities and pregnant girls from school.
He said in view of this, that Plan Ghana since 1999 has awarded scholarships to girls and needy children with an annual budget of about Ghc 500,000.00 for a minimum of 1,000 students per year.
He said the day marks the beginning of the NGO’s special campaign, dubbed “10 Days to Act” which is running from today up until the June 26, as part of the BIAAG campaign.
On her part, the Minister for Gender and Social Protection Nana Oye Lithur, said the day presents an invaluable opportunity for all stakeholders on children’s rights, including Governments, NGO’s and international entities, to reflect on issues affecting children on the continent.
She said day offers an opportune moment to take stock of the progress made and the outstanding challenges remaining towards the full realization of the rights of children on the continent.
To this end, African Committee of Experts on the Right and Welfare of the Child, the treaty body vested with the mandate to monitor the implementation of rights contained in the African Charter on the Right and Welfare of the Child, annually selects a theme for the commemoration of the day.