Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Day of an African Child on 16th June, 2018. This day serves to commemorate the black students in Soweto, South Africa who were injured and died due to their brave action in defense of their rights to education. Therefore, the Day of an African Child celebrates the children of Africa and demands for serious reflection and commitment towards addressing the various challenges facing children especially with regard to access to quality education across the continent and the country as well.
This year’s theme is “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development.” This theme can only come to a reality if no child is left behind in terms of access to quality education. This is because education fosters development not only for an individual but also the country at large. Thus, the overarching principle of this year is inclusive development for children. The theme is particularly important in the African context where children form the majority of Africa’s population. According to the Zambia Demographic Health Survey 2014 -2015 the Zambian population under the age of 15 years amounts to fifty percent (50%). It is therefore important to target children’s wellbeing in terms of development in the country as children are in the majority and are our future leaders.
It is sad to note that according to the Africa Union Concept Note on the Day of the African Child, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than half of the world’s out-of-school children (34 million) while girls account for 54 per cent of the out-of-school population. Despite progress made in realizing children’s rights to non-discrimination and to improve gender equality, the gap in access to education based on gender persists. Children with disabilities are a significant portion of out-of-school children. Additionally, according to the 2016 Zambia Education Statistical Bulletin 752,701 children are out of school. It becomes important to ensure that children that are out of school are brought back to school if no child is to be left behind in terms of education. It is also important that learning and teaching materials as well as infrastructure are sufficient and inclusive so that differently abled children also have access to equitable quality education both in the urban and rural areas. Similarly, it is important to ensure that Policies like the Re-entry Policy are implemented so that no Child is left behind in the country
Agenda 2063 under the African Union provides a frame work for social- economic development as a continent. As such this year’s theme is harnessing the continental goal to ensure we have an Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth and caring for children. This is in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal number four (4) whose target is to ensure that inclusive and equitable quality education is attained and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The coalition would further like to take this opportunity to disassociate itself & denounce early child marriages, teenage pregnancies, child labor and related vices that retard the development of a child to reach their full capacity and potentials in terms of their mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. A child should have access to good nutrition, education, medical care and shelter. As it is also stated in the African Charter on the Rights and Wellbeing of a Child (ACRWC) Article 11: Every child has the right to an education, to develop his or her personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. This education also includes the preservation and strengthening of positive African morals, traditional values and cultures. Governments should also take special measures in respect of female, gifted and disadvantaged children, to ensure equal access to education for all sections of the community.
ZANEC urges government, parents, guardians, teachers, and all stakeholders to set up their efforts in bringing up children in conducive environments and ensuring that they access quality education in order to safe guard their future.
We wish all the African children well as we commemorate their day today.
Ms. Ivy Mutwale
Acting Executive Director
Issued on 16th June, 2018