Ghana was the first African country to sign the UN charter on Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. This convention clearly spelt out the conditions under which a child’s rights must be respected and acknowledged in all spheres. But the question is, are African countries including Ghana, handling issues regarding children’s rights in consonance with the UN Convention? The following deductions will attempt to establish the pros and cons militating against the fundamental essence of the UN Convention on the rights of the Child:
It is the responsibility for both governments and parents to ensure that children’s rights are respected and protected. At least, a child should attain the basic level of education in one’s lifetime, sheltered and clothed. This clause has been captured in millennium development goal 2 on education:
- ‘’ The world is edging closer to universal primary education, but too slowly to meet the 2015 target. In the developing world as a whole, 88% of children of official primary school age were enrolled in primary education in 2007, up from 83% in 2000.
- 72 million children worldwide were denied the right to education in 2007.
- Enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by 15 percentage points between 2000 and 2007. However, despite this breakthrough, almost half of all children not attending primary school live in this region’’.
This has not been the picture of many African children who have made the streets their humble abode and source of livelihood in many African countries which Ghana is no exception. Their future lies in our major streets. Mostly, this situation emanates from ‘child trafficking’, where little children are smuggled from all parts of the country to the urban centers for child labour. A survey conducted by curious mind a child and youth advocacy group shows that many of the children on our streets are from broken homes or under single parenting.
Many children are used to crack stones for building construction at various sites. These children are aged from 7years to 16years. In their life, there is nothing like education. All is about ‘streetism’ and child labour. Some also go for fishing with their parents at the beaches.
In the mining town of Dunkwa-On-Offin in the Central Region of Ghana, children are engaged in surface and underground mining which is called ‘Galamsey’. These children always loose their lives in this illegal mining business especially when trapped in broken caves. In the northern parts of Ghana, most school- going –age children are seen repairing bicycles as a source of livelihood. One wonders the future of these children in society, because, definitely, some could become future Parliamentarians, Ministers of State and Presidents.
It is the responsibility of governments to enforce laws that geared towards child rights to at least attain a basic level education and take care of all children in our streets with the help of parents. Irresponsible parents must be punished by the law for allowing their wards to sell in the streets, because it behoves on them to ensure peace at home to limit separation and divorce so that children will not find their way onto the streets. A child is supposed to grow at home and not on the street, because children are the future leaders of every nation. ‘‘Everyone has become a child once upon a time, but no one will live immortal in this world’’
Long live international day of the African child!!