Every year on the 16th of June is the African Child Day; the day came into being in memory of children who were killed in the Republic of South Africa in their pursuit for democracy and independence from the Apartheid regime. The commemoration brings together all Civil Society Organisations, more especially those that that are involved in child protection, and governments to reaffirm their commitment to the welfare of children.
The Day is celebrated by all African Union (AU) member States .This year’s commemoration will be celebrated under the theme; A child friendly, quality and compulsory education for all children in Africa.
According to the AU, although most African countries are working hard to empower and enhance children’s rights, there is still a gap in terms of the education of children in the continent. Education plays a major role in the development of an individual and the society as whole. This greatly informs and reminds African countries that they have an obligation to provide quality education to children. There is need to create an enabling environment for children to learn and education should also be free and compulsory to all African children.
There are so many factors that impinge children from exercising their right to education. For instance, most Malawian public schools lack necessary teaching and learning materials. The case is overwhelmingly serious in rural public schools and illiteracy levels of people in such rural communities are also very high. The number of teachers does not, in any way, match the number of learners and a lot has to be done in terms of providing other resources and infrastructures like class rooms, sanitary facilities as well as portable drinking water for the learners.
As we commemorate the Day of the African Child, governments should remember that all learners have strengths and challenges. It is, therefore, the governments’ role to make sure that such challenges are overcome and that each individual student’s capabilities are nurtured to fruition. What African governments should know is that compulsory education, to a greater extent, entails an increase in enrollment and this means that teaching and learning resources and materials will also be needed in huge and abundant supplies. For a society to develop, it must sustainably support and invest in the education of its young ones.
All in all, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the quality of education is good and free. In light of the recent Boko Haram abduction of innocent school children in Nigeria, my call to all governments is that they need to make sure that the education systems are child friendly in safe and secure learning environments.