UGANDAN CHILDREN ASSESS THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF A CHILD TO CELEBRATE THEIR DAY

Children’s day has been celebrated on the 20th of November annually since 1954. It is celebrated to increase the awareness of the rights, care, and education of children. This year, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) organized a conference bringing together children from different parts of Africa in their respective organizations to discuss what the charter can do to help children support their rights and what children think the governments in their respective countries can do to help protect children’s rights. The charter deals with protecting children’s rights such as Every child has a right to have basic needs, every child has a right to access what they need to have a good life, and so many others. In Uganda, different organizations brought children together to discuss issues affecting children’s rights and solutions to them and then make presentations during the conference. Some of the questions that the Charter brought forward were; What have children benefited from their rights, What has the government done to promote and protect children’s rights, What hasn’t the government done to promote children’s rights and what can the government do to protect children’s rights in Uganda. I had an opportunity to participate in the conference and we as the children from Uganda, came up with various answers to those questions. From the first question which was asking how children have benefited from their rights, we came up with different answers after a group discussion like. 1. A right to education. The children in Uganda have gained more skills in schools and have gained confidence in themselves and to stand up and speak out for themselves. This right also helps children to become good leaders in the future. 2. A right to freedom and expression. The children have become the center of everything due to their rights and they are valued and respected. They have also got a chance to express themselves more freely by writing articles in newspapers and magazines in Uganda like Rainbow, Toto, and through writing in some websites on the internet. Moving on to the second question which was asking what the government has done to protect and promote children’s rights, we found the following answers. 1. A right to education. The children mostly in rural areas, have found difficulty in accessing education services. The government has tried to curb this by extending the education services to the rural areas and creating Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education programmes to help support children whose parents aren’t financially stable. One of the other issues defaulting this right is during this COVID-19 19 lockdown when many girls have become pregnant due to the confinement with their relatives and friends but recently, the government has reopened schools for candidates and has accepted these girls to go back to school and complete their education. 2. A right to health In some areas like rural areas in Uganda, health services are rarely extended there especially for children during immunization. The government has tried to curb this by extending these services to the rural areas and building health centers there to help children get immunization on time and some medicine for other diseases. 3. A right to food. The COVID-19 19 pandemic has led to closure of schools and workplaces hence parents are not financially stable enough to provide basic needs like food. The government has tried to curb this by setting up special units in each region to distribute sacks of food to every household. One of the other questions asked was What hasn’t the government done to promote children’s rights? We came up with the following answers. Many forms of injustice have been done against children like defilement, child sacrifice, and so on and the government did not create enough child courts, so the victims have often not received justice and are not listened to. The government has also failed to supply ARVs to children living with HIV mostly in rural areas due to the COVID-19 19 pandemic which has hindered their distribution and it has led to the death of these children. The government has also not protected children enough because those who are still on streets are exposed to a lot of inappropriate activity. It has also failed to protect children from early marriages, and this defaults a child’s right to education and freedom. Moving on to the last question which was asking what the government of Uganda should do to promote children’s rights. The government of Uganda should create a special program for street children and build them homes where they can be protected from the inappropriate activities. The government should also provide sanitary pads to teenage girls in rural areas who are going through their periods which might affect their education. It should also consider making special internet bundles to enable non finalists to study online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference gave all of us children an opportunity to learn about children’s rights and to express how we feel about them and how they are being promoted and protected. We should all stand together to promote togetherness and awareness of children in African and around the world. Compilation made by Joshua Muraya 14 years old Writer at High Sound for Children

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