Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for the African Child by 2030
The Day of the African Child was adopted by the African heads of states in the OAU to be annually celebrated in commemoration of the South African students who were murdered on 16th of June 1976 on the streets of Soweto as they protested against the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in their local schools, poor quality of education and demanded to be taught in their own languages.
The celebration of this day provides a platform to reflect on the challenges faced by the children in different spheres of their life in order to take appropriate actions in addressing these challenges. It is also time to take stock of the achievements registered in the promotion of child rights in Africa and at country level.
This year’s theme as usual was selected by the African commit of experts on rights and welfare of a child Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for the African Child by 2030 and was based on the countries commitments within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for children in Africa. There is a need to link the SDG development agenda to child rights in Africa and at country level through a rights based approach to ensure sustainable development.
At country level the Government of Rwanda has made impressive strides in child protection, empowerment and in providing equal opportunities to all children. For instance, the government has enacted a number of laws and policies to protect the child against violence including sexual violence. These include the 2001 law on rights and protection of a child against violence, introduction of the early childhood development policy, the 12 year free basic education and one laptop per child program among others.
As we celebrated the Day of the African Child in Rwanda, REFAC as an organization working on promoting affective quality and free education for all in Rwanda took this opportunity to appreciate the progress registered by the Rwandan government in the field of child protection, empowerment and providing equal opportunities through providing free education. However, despite of this impressive development, REFAC pointed out some issues that still need to be addressed especially in ensuring quality and inclusive education as the foundation for empowering and providing equal opportunity to all children. According to the research conducted by REFAC, negative attitude of the parents, lack of appropriate infrastructures, lack of adequate materials and qualified teaching staff are among obstacles that hinder the quality of inclusive education in Rwanda.
The celebration of this day was conducted by REFAC with its partners from Gasabo district and Gasabo Child rights network as a way of interacting with partners working on child rights and to reflect on the progress made and to identify existing challenges in order to take appropriate steps towards addressing them as well as exploring the progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Child Development Agenda in Rwanda, Creating partnership with all stakeholders working on child rights and more specifically in the education sector, Conducting advocacy to policy makers on addressing barriers to quality and inclusive education as well as other challenges affecting children in their daily life, Appealing to parents and teachers about their obligations towards child protection and empowerment, Sensitizing students about their rights and obligation to protection and empowerment, Creating synergy with the media in promoting child rights, especially the right to education.