November 18, 2022 12:30 pm
The Day of the African Child which is celebrated each year on the 16th of June finds its birth form 1976 Soweto uprising that took place in South Africa where thousands of black students marched in the streets of South Africa calling for an end to the Black Education Act which legally segregated students based on their race.
In Uganda today, girls are at risk of child marriages, teenage pregnancy and female genital mutilation. Gender based violence and sexual violence are also pervasive plus child labour with children mainly working in the formal sector.
As a local NGO that strives to prevent Gender Based Violence (GBV) and promoting the rights of children through promotion of safeguarding. PaCT celebrated this year’s Day of African Child through a dialogue meeting which brought together 548 students as St. Elizabeth Girl’s School who interacted with protection officers who among others included the officer in charge of Child and Family Protection Unit at Uganda Police in Mityana, Senior Probation Officer of the district, Community Development Officers, and teachers. The event was held under the theme “Stepping Up Child Protection, My Role in Creating a Child Friendly Environment” which was derived from the international theme which states “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”
The overlapping issues that were presented by the students during the dialogue included; Excessive beating by teachers as a result of minor offenses, lack of enough resting time, e.g., being woken up at 4:00am for morning preps, increased school drop outs, increased child labour and produce child sacrifice reports, failure by the local authorities to address issues of street children and ignorance about where to report cases of child abuse.
The Orange House at Wellington College has over the years been on board to fight against human rights abuses in Uganda through PaCT and we have to say we wouldn’t have been able to arrange such events and more without their support which resulted to notable recommendations that should be taken on by the school authorities and later on adopted by the district council to promote child protection and these included;
Responsible and acceptable punishments for the students’ offenders, allow students enough time to rest their mind so that their bodies can function effectively, a toll-free phone contact for the police was provided for the students to report their issues and posters will be printed and pinned around the schools bearing the number for easy access by everyone. The same recommendations to be replicated to other schools in a bid to uplift child safety.