Accra, June 17, 2014 – The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in collaboration with the UN system and other stakeholders has organized a press conference to mark the Day of the African Child. Speakers highlighted the challenges in the education sector and called for a concerted effort by all stakeholders to ensure “A Child Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education for all children in Africa” as was the theme.
In an address, the UN Resident Coordinator, a.i, Ms. Susan Ngongi commended the government of Ghana for undertaking several projects to ensure the provision of quality education to Ghanaian children. However, 16% of school children were still out of school. “This means we need to do more to make sure these students find a place in the classrooms” she noted.
A representative from Plan Ghana, Mr. George York, also shared the concerns of stakeholders about poor education across the country and added that finding solutions to the challenges does not rest on only a section of the public. He said “… all of us have a part to play in achieving A Child Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education for all children in Africa” .
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur stated that the government takes the mandate of ensuring gender equality and social protection of children and vulnerable groups in our society very seriously. She said this day presents an invaluable opportunity for all stakeholders on children’s right, both governmental and non-governmental entities, to reflect on issues affecting children’s rights and also to take stock of the progress made. She said major reports such as the Africa Union’s Report on the State of Africa’s Children (2010) and the Millennium Development Goal report (2012) reflect a grim reality on the state of education for children in Africa hence demanding accelerated and urgent actions to ensure that the African child and the Ghanaian child have access to education as well as remain in school.
Describing the learning environment in the country, the Minister noted that education was below expectation as most school environments were overcrowded, lacking water and sanitation facilities and inadequate trained teachers, adding that Early Childhood Care and Development must be prioritized nationally as it provides a comprehensive approach to education.
The Minister announced that this year’s celebration will be climaxed in Wa, in the Upper West region of Ghana on 24th June with students debate on the theme “A Child Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education for all children in Africa: is it a reality or rhetoric”. Participating students will come up with a communiqué to the government.
Ms. Eunice Nana Asante, a form two student of Abonyi JHS, said this day was significant to them as children because it provided an avenue for them to voice out their problems and also reminds them of their rights to be protected from abuses.