Day of the African Child

Day of the African Child 2015

As I am in Tanzania working on School Readiness and the improvement in teacher performance it is pertinent for me and others to celebrate all those efforts of getting children to participate in education of sufficient quality that will help all children to flourish and be resilient in the face of future challenges.

The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16th every year since 1991, The day commemorates the 1976 South African-Soweto uprising, during which hundreds of black school children in the Soweto Apartheid regime were brutally gunned down while protesting the inferior quality of their education.

The Day of the African Child provides an opportunity to draw attention to the work of all actors committed to the rights of children on the continent of Africa and to address the obstacles preventing us from realizing these rights. The day also presents the opportunity for governments, international institutions and organizations to renew their ongoing commitments toward improving the plight of children in Africa.

On this day, we want to draw attention to the continued need for improvements in education for African children. According to UNESCO, Africa is home to 43% of the world’s out-of-school primary age children, and most of the 30 million children who are out of school in sub-Saharan Africa will never go to school at all.

On a continent where millions of children subsist on less than 1 euro per day, education represents a way out of poverty for many. Education also helps fight the spread of diseases, improves children’s health, and promotes peaceful and inclusive societies. Further, it promotes confidence and cohesion, and is essential for the psychosocial well-being of children, especially during times of conflict.

A few excerpts from INEE’s recent essay contest give voice to the importance of education among children in Africa:

“Education meant “peace” to me during this period [of crisis]. It felt like a safe word that kept the evil away. It was the only thing that took my mind off it all. No matter what the subject was, it didn’t matter to me. Even if it was Chemistry which I found boring, it felt like all the subjects said the same things: “Peace” “Keep calm” and “Safety”. — Jephthah, Nigeria
“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that if I was to be successful in life, I had to go to school.” — Ivy, Kenya
“In difficult times, education allows the younger generation to forget the pain and suffering they experienced. To those who are victim of crisis and who are vulnerable, education opens their future to new opportunities.”
— Mahikan Desire, Ivory Coast (living in Liberia)

“[Education] made us useful in the society, rather than making us useless. That is to say, we lost everything we had (homes, parents, relatives, friends, even food), but education was not lost, because it is the key to a happy life.”
— Gompou, Ivory Coast (living in Liberia)

To read the complete essays from these African children and others from around the world, download the booklet: The Brightest Hope: Essays from around the world on the importance of education in times of crisis

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