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A Celebration of the Day of the African Child

n Uganda, the 2014 Celebrations of the Day of the African Child were held at the Lira Golf Course Grounds in Lira District on June 16th under the theme: ‘A Child-Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education in Uganda’. n Uganda, the 2014 Celebrations of the Day of the African Child were held at the Lira Golf Course Grounds in Lira District on June 16th under the theme: ‘A Child-Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education in Uganda’.

In 1976, thousands of black school children took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa. In a march more than half a mile long, they protested the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down by security forces. In the 2 weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand were injured. To honour the memory of those killed and the courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union).

In Uganda, the 2014 Celebrations were held at the Lira Golf Course Grounds in Lira District on June 16th under the theme: ‘A Child-Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education in Uganda’. The Day provided Uganda an opportunity to take stock of efforts made in ensuring child protection. The function was graced by Hon Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development (MGLSD) and Hon Ronald Kibule, the State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs.


Children identified challenges encountered including child abuse including defilement and child sacrifice; domestic violence caused by misunderstandings in families; AIDS transmission which is accelerated by the fact that teachers do not sensitize children; forced marriages; child labor; limited opportunities for children to express themselves; and property grabbing upon demise of children. Other challenges identified that specifically related to parents included: lack of scholastic materials, inadequate medical care, parental care and overwhelming irresponsibility of parents including alcoholism. Notably, children requested for feeding in schools; decried the segregation in selecting who goes to school and the preference for boys; the need to pay attention to children with disabilities; strengthening of rehabilitation centers for children; and strengthening the child protection structures in Uganda.

The Country Director, Plan Uganda emphasized the need for government to focus on vulnerable children; ensure that all Ugandan children attend school; and ensure that the child helpline is made functional.

In her remarks, the UNICEF Country Representative said that there was need to focus on primary school completion and improvement in the quality of primary school teaching. She congratulated MoGLSD for launching the helpline and stated that it will ensure that abuses are reported and addressed.

The area Member of Parliament, Hon Jimmy Akena Obote thanked the Government for taking the celebrations to Lira and encouraged parents to educate their children and provide their necessities for education. He placed emphasis on holistic education for children in Uganda.

Hon. Ronald Kibuule informed the children that he had taken note of the recommendations made. He emphasized government’s strong desire to feed children however cited the limited capacity. He therefore encouraged parents to fulfil their duty of providing feeding for their children while government educates them. The Minister also highlighted the vast legal regime that Uganda has in place to safeguard children including the Children Act Cap 59, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Uganda has ratified. He emphasized that access to education is hinged to other rights including the right to survive and participate and that all stakeholders should focus on translating national and international provisions into interventions.

The Minister also stated that focus is being made on ensuring early childhood education, expansion of Universal Primary Education (UPE), enhancing access to USE and regulating education service providers, and focusing on teacher training and deployment which is essential to quality education.

In conclusion, the Hon. Kibuule encouraged all, especially the children to use new mechanisms like the child helpline 116 to guarantee child protection in Uganda. The celebrations ended at 3:30pm and the Minister concluded by appending his signature to a pledge chart, which the children developed for their leaders to sign pledging to fulfill the rights of children in Uganda.


By Barbara Kitui and Edgar Kuhimbisa in Lira | Published: June 17 2014

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