Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins the continent in celebrating Day of the African Child (DAC) whose theme this year is “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”. 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 2022.
The June 16 annual event honours the memories of students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting against education injustice and inequality in the apartheid regime. 46 years later, the African child still faces barriers to accessing basic education and rights through disastrous anti people economic policies, corruption, and societal ills such as child marriages and child labour that form part of harmful practices that affect children.
In our local context, we have seen a decrease in social spending on social services, with no meaningful expenditure on schools and hospital construction. Of late, the national schools examining body ZIMSEC introduced US $ pegged examination fees that are beyond the reach of many parents who eke their living in the Informal Economy. The rising cost of living has also seen children dropping out of school in order to help their families economically through activities such as vending, begging and artisanal mining, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. Others have fallen prey to drug dealers and become substance abusers.
As VISET, we continually urge our constituency to appreciate the value of education for children as an empowerment tool and the need to keep children in schools but we are equally alive to the push factors contributing to this societal malaise whose parentage lies in the inconsistent economic policies that the government has been pursuing for the past two decades. As we commemorate this important day for youths unto whom the continent’s future is being bequeathed, it is of critical importance that the African Union enacts protocols that ensure that these most vulnerable in our society are given maximum protection if we are not to lose entire generations to exploitation and other harmful practices.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation