As her custom is – to ensure the wellness and protection of children – the Child Protection Network (CPN) Lagos state chapter joined the world to celebrate the African child on June 16.

The network had 42 students from nine (9) schools and homes all dressed in diverse cultural attires of the country come together at the premises of the fountain of life church to celebrate the 2021 Day of the African Child with the theme, “30 years after the Adoption of the Charter: Accelerate the Implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children.”

In her welcome address, the State Coordinator of the Network and Administrator of the Bimbo Odukoya Foundation (BOF), Mrs Ronke Oyelakin, commended the movement which started on June 16, 1991, after the gross killings of hundreds of Black students who protested on the street of Soweto, South Africa against the poor quality of their education as well as the Black Education Act which segregated students based on their race in 1976.

According to Oyelakin, the Day of the African Child is an ample opportunity to raise awareness on the need to improve the quality and access to free education of children living across Africa. It is a need that is still very much exists today even in Lagos State. Out of the 57 million primary school-age children currently out of school around the world, over half of them are from sub-Saharan Africa.

“Due to this, since 1991, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 to commemorate those killed during the Soweto Uprising in South Africa, and to recognize the courage of the students who marched for their right to education,” Mrs Oyelakin added.

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While speaking on the theme of the celebration, Oyelakin noted that though progress has been achieved in advocating the right of the child, there is still more to do as a lot of children in sub-Saharan African still lack basic rights.

She expressed the need for the network to work towards achieving the 2040 agenda for the African child which include; providing an effective continental framework for advancing children’s rights; putting in place an effective child-friendly national legislative, policy, and institutional framework in all Member States; registering every child’s birth and other vital statistics; ensuring that every child survives, has a healthy childhood, grow up well-nourished, have access to the necessities of life benefits, be protected against violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse, benefit from a child-sensitive criminal system and to be free from the impact of armed conflicts and other disasters or emergency situations.

She said, “Though progress has been made since the Soweto uprising, 1 in 10 children are still missing from the classroom. This is a call to all child every advocate as we all know that much more work needs to be done to ensure all children are given a quality education.”

“The theme for this year’s celebration was selected by 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) for the commemoration of the DAC in 2021. And as we celebrate this day in line with this theme, let us also bear in mind, the 2040 agenda for the African children,” she added.

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The event also showcased different cultural presentations from the children after which there was a session of a question and answer where the children discussed various challenges faced by the children in Lagos state.

Reported by Becky Olorunpomi