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CERDOTOLA Executive Secretary stresses need to pay utmost attention to African children as Continent celebrates Day of the African Child
From: 'Tunde Babalola
Wed, 16 Jun 2021   ||   Nigeria, Ibadan

As Africans commemorate the 30th Day of the Africa Child, the Executive Secretary of the International Centre for Research and Documentation on African Languages and Traditions (CERDOTOLA), Prof Charles Binam-Bikoi has expressed the readiness of the centre as well as fellow Africans to ensure that hundreds of African children who died in Soweto, South Africa while protesting for their rights to education and to be taught in their own languages would not be in vain.

In an Exclusive Interview with CEOAFRICA, the erudite Professor said the annual event is one of the most important celebrations in the entire continent of Africa because it brings to mind the need to pay utmost attention to African children who are the future of the continent.

Recall that on 16 June 1976 in Soweto, South Africa, thousands of black schoolchildren took to the streets to protest about the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of them were shot down; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand injured. It is to honour their courage and in memory of those killed, in 1991 the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) established the Day of the African Child.

The Day also draws attention to the lives of African children today.

The theme for the Day of the African Child (DAC) 2021 is “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children”. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Committee), established under Articles 32 and 33 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (the Charter) selected this theme for the commemoration of the DAC in 2021.

The avid Professor said “the African Committee recognizes the importance of the Day of the African Child, (DAC) as an advocacy tool for enhancing the visibility of the Charter as well as promoting children’s rights and welfare issues.

He noted that “Africa is home to 628 million children and youth under 25 – and that figure is growing everyday . According to most estimates, the continent’s youth population will at least double within the next half century. Despite the young population, Africa still lags in most indicators, including education. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, 34 million children of primary school age are currently out of school.

“This dynamic creates an urgent need for innovative, sustainable interventions that address barriers to children’s and youth’s empowerment in Africa. It’s vital that we promote their rights and secure their futures, as the continent aspires for economic and social development.”

Each year on June 16, we commemorate the youth who were killed during the Soweto uprisings in South Africa in 1976, when thousands of Black students marched for their right to a fairer education.

According to Prof Binam-Bikoi, “The International Day of the African Child allows us to reflect on the condition of children in Africa and to examine strategies to continue to improve their education. To mark the day this year, we share two reflections on addressing several challenges facing children across the continent.

CERDOTOLA Executive Secretary says “We need to embrace new and creative approaches to education, recognizing that learning is fluid and can take place outside the physical boundaries of the classroom. Through investments in approaches such as after-school programs and peer-learning groups, or in second-chance education for girls, children and youth can develop a desire to acquire knowledge and build the tools to improve and safeguard themselves for the future.





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