REFLECTION ON THE DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD
Female Students Network joins the rest of Africa in celebrating the day of the African Child on the sixteenth of June.
On this day, Africans remember the students from South Africa’s Soweto suburbs who were killed by policemen during an uprising where they were protesting against apartheid-inspired education.
The day of the African child also provides governments, international institutions and communities towards improving the plight of marginalised, particularly vulnerable children. It also advocates for the recognition of youths and children’s rights.
The youth who died on this day fought not only for their rights but for the rights of all children. It of paramount importance therefore to reflect on these rights on this day.
Children have the right to education, shelter, health, the right to develop fully to their potential and the right to protection and survival among other rights. This article will focus on children’s’ rights to education, shelter and the right to protection.
The right to education is an important right as it helps them to realise their right and responsibility to help build a better world in partnership with their families, the communities around them and their nations and the world at large. In Zimbabwe the right to education is clearly enshrined in the constitution but is it being fulfilled?
Recently, 500 students from Bondolfi Teachers College in Masvingo were suspended over non-payment of a teaching practice fee which almost equals their tuition fees.
Education is a basic human right hence the suspension of the students is a direct infringement of this right
Children at primary and secondary schools are being turned away every beginning of the school term although the government says it is against this policy.
The Ministry of Education is not being firm on this decision because school children are still being chased away if they do not pay their fees.
The Basic Education Assistance Mechanism (BEAM) has also cut down on the number of beneficiaries, leading to an increase in the number of school drop outs.
In tertiary institutions, the Cadetship programme has since been frozen and students now have to source for fees money on their own.
For some female students, it means having to find rich married men who will help them to pay their fees in return for sex.
This is disheartening in that female students will then proceed to have unsafe abortions after discovering that they have fallen pregnant which are prejudicial to their health. Furthermore, they will be susceptible to contracting STIs and/or HIV AIDS.
The government should therefore be in a position to assist students with loans for their continued hassle- free education.
Cases of children being abducted, raped and killed are also on the high jump in Zimbabwe. The environment has become so unsafe for children that parents are always on the edge when their children are not at home.
School, which were once a safe place for children now leave a lot to be desired. A case in mind is that of a thirteen year old Prince Edward boy who was killed by his colleagues or teacher (it has not yet been established) and thrown in a disused swimming pool.
Another case is the story of two children from Hatfield Primary School who allegedly turned into vampires after wearing bracelets they were given by their teacher.
Teachers also continue to molest school children, even at tertiary level in exchange for distinctions. Female students who turn down their lecturers’ sexual advances are made to fail their modules.
The people that are supposed to be guardians of our children continue to abuse them and the school is no longer a safe place for them. Thus there is need for the government to take stringent measures against child abusers.
Children have the right to shelter and to be cared for. However it seems the numbers of homeless youth and children still roaming around the street are escalating but a lot of orphanages have been opened.
Therefore there is still a lot to be done in realising the rights of the African child.