June 16 marks the Day of the African Child, commemorated every year since 1991. This year’s regional theme from the African Union (AU) is:
Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development.
Africa’s Development is Anchored on Children! Help Them Be the Best Now!
1 in 3 children and youth are denied the right to education in sub-Saharan Africa. Girls face a higher risk of exclusion from school than boys, starting from primary school and increasing throughout secondary school (UIS). Approximately 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18 www.girlsnotbrides.org/region/sub-saharan-africa.
Every child has to the right to health, education and protection. We find that children, youth and adolescents are perpetually left behind, not accessing basic needs, despite national governments signing on to the statutory instruments and ratifications that promote children’s rights. In a context where the primary unit of child nurturing, care and protection is weak and sometimes dysfunctional, lack of access to basic needs further exposes children to abuse, exploitation and many other social ills. REPSSI takes this opportunity to emphasise the role of social, emotional and mental wellbeing through Psychosocial Support that is best offered by the families and communities where children live. By creating circles of support and providing love, care and protection, children gain a firm foundation for their continuous development. This lessens children’s vulnerabilities and ensures that no child is left behind. Social, emotional and mental wellbeing is crucial for children to access basic regardless of sex, gender, disability, ethnicity and race.
Below are some of the key messages from REPSSI for ensuring that “No Child Is Left Behind…”:
| Every child should have access to a birth certificate. A birth certificate provides a child with an identity, a sense belonging to a community, and is a passport to accessing basic services. We can protect children’s social, psychological and economic outcomes by ensuring they have birth certificates.|
Building the capacity of social services workforce to enable them support girls’ and boys’ social, emotional and mental wellbeing. This includes community care givers, social and health service providers, law enforcement, and teachers.
Create safe child friendly spaces for children to play, learn and socialise with other children. Children have the right to play.
Government must provide child-sensitive social protection mechanisms to reduce children’s vulnerabilities.