Today is International Day of the African Child. It is a day set aside by the United Nations to remember the killing of innocent black school children in then Apartheid South Africa. The day also affords key policy makers the opportunity to appraise the present situation of children in the continents in terms of welfare, access to qualitative education, healthcare and hygiene.
UNICEF and notable academia in the South East zone of the country is using the day to advocate greater commitment by government towards eradicating illiteracy and hunger. The day of the African Child celebrated on June sixteen every year, was instituted in 1991 by the organization of African Unity, now African Union (AU). This special day is to commemorate the 1976 uprising in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid inspired education, resulted in the public killing of the unarmed young protesters by the police.
Speaking on this tragic event, the Chief of UNICEF, Enugu field office, Doctor Ibrahim Conteh explained that the day also afforded various governments, including the states under the field office to appraise their achievements and also evolve policies that would tackle other challenges being faced by children.
An academic and Vice Chancellor, Godfrey Okoye University, Emene, Enugu, Professor Christian Anieke urged leaders in Africa to use dialogue to resolve their differences on key issues, as children are always the primary victims of conflicts. In her submission, the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Professor Chinyere Okunna emphasized the need for transparency and sincerity in governance.
This she said, would ensure sustained collaboration between governments and development partners and implementation of policies that would make education more affordable and innovative. Children were not left out in this annual event as they expressed their yearning, which among other things include the need for qualitative education and basic social amenities.
The theme of this year’s International Day of the African Child is, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa, accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity”.
Similarly, the Executive Director, Young African Stars Nigeria, Mr. George Urunwoke has appealed to government at all levels to make education free for the interest of Nigerian Children. Mr. Urunwoke made the appeal while speaking with Radio Nigeria on the significances of the day. According to Mr. Urunwoke, qualitative education will enhance the development of children, academically and otherwise.