1. In 1991, the then OAU, now African Union (AU) instituted the Day of the African Child in memory of the 1976 students’ uprising in Soweto, South Africa. The protest was against the poor quality of education the students were getting in schools wherein they demanded to be taught in their own language.
2. This year 2018 theme “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” was selected by the African Committee of Experts on the Right and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) because of the need to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for African Children. In so doing, the directive is to the effect that there should be communication and awareness- raising of this theme in the schools, media and our local environments so that children and their parents or guardians can understand the importance of the day.
3. It is a day to highlight inclusivity by giving specific needs and concerns to the orphans, physically-challenged, poor and disabled children. It is also a time to address the numerous challenges Children are facing across the African continent, e.g Deprivation of Education and Health facilities, Hunger, Poverty, Violence, Insecurity, Conflict and other issues that may affect their future Therefore, government should prioritize children’s rights and interests so they are not left behind.
4. The day is committed towards investing in Children now and reaping the gains later. It is equally a day to teach Children about their Rights and how to be Agents of Positive Change in their respective communities.
5. This means we must factor in the needs of Children in line with the goals of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030; the pillars being economic, social and environmental, Justice and Peace.
6. It is a time to ask whether there are Children who are not benefiting from African’s development. We should then ask ourselves who are these Children especially the poor Children and the vulnerable ones. Can we locate these Children so that they can play a role on that day? We therefore have a duty to undertake to develop programs and policies in favour of these children.
7. We must continue to emphasize that interests and protection of Children should always be at the centre-stage. Therefore, the obligation is on the Federal, State and Local governments to protect the children and see how they can benefit from the 17 goals of the SDGs. Other stakeholders are well advised to adopt a right-based approach to ensure they get results while citizens must be pro-active by securing a commitment from the different arms of government.
8. Finally, everyone is enjoined to remember the ACERWC’s Agenda 2040 theme which is “Fostering an Africa fit for children” because Children are the drivers for Africa’s Sustainable Development. Agenda 2040 therefore sets out 10 aspirations which has to do with:
• Having an effective child-friendly law, policy and institutional framework in Africa.
• African Governments should integrate these policies into their laws.
• Promoting the African child’s view in all matters. That is, we should not exclude Children. Better to let them express their views.
• The summary of the theme of the 2018 Day of the African Child is: we should remove the barriers that African Children are facing in today’s world, so they can progress.
From AWLA, we say long live the African Child!

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