“Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” (Krio: Nor pekin nor fo lef biyen fo SALONE hin beteh wan)
In 1991 the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) established the Day of the African Child to commemorate those killed after thousands of black schoolchildren took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, to protest about the poor quality of education and to demand the right to be taught in their own language. More than a hundred people were killed and over a thousand injured.
The Day of the African Child (DAC) not only honours those who took part in the Soweto Uprising under the South African apartheid regime, it also draws attention to the ongoing need to improve education for African children. Every year on June 16, governments, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders gather to discuss the rights of children in Africa. The theme of the Day of the African Child 2018 is “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development”, emphasising the need to anchor children’s rights in all developmental programmes implemented by African Member States.
In Sierra Leone in particular, DAC is the day to raise awareness for the causes of all vulnerable children: those orphaned by Ebola or AIDS, street kids, the disabled and impoverished children who will one day inherit the continent. It is a day to remind the African Community, political leaders and organisations to address issues such as child trafficking, teenage pregnancy, child marriage and child labour. It is about protecting the rights and the dignity of all African children. This year’s DAC conference will be held in Bo town.
According to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child: “While the 2017 DAC theme focused on locating Africa’s children generally within the 2030 Agenda*, the 2018 theme highlights the need to ensure that ‘NO CHILD IS LEFT BEHIND’ by specifically targeting those who are not benefitting from Africa’s growth and development. Thus, the overarching principle is inclusive development for children, that is, whenever undertaking to develop programs and policies for implementing Agenda 2030, children should be at the centre-stage and Member States should ‘ensure that no child is left behind’ in the drive towards sustainable economic development.”
MercyHome Freetown is proud to have been invited by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs to contribute to the success of the Day of the African Child 2018 by joining the Media Coordinating Committee and Child Protection Advocacy Committee.
*The United Nations 2030 Agenda, the African Union Agenda 2063 and the African Charter all focus on the conditions required for children’s economic and social fulfillment, which include an end to poverty and hunger, promoting health, quality education for all and gender equality, as well as access to safe drinking water and sanitation.