Stakeholders call for combined efforts in fighting for children's rights

Non-governmental organizations and stakeholders in West Pokot County have called for combined efforts in protecting children and allowing them to access education in the digital world.

Thousands of children converged at Marich Primary School in West Pokot County to commemorate the day of the African child.

The Day of the African Child is usually celebrated on 16th June every year to mark the memory of the thousands of young, brave children who marched in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 to protest apartheid and demand equal access to education. 

The day was first established by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1991.

Under this year's 2023 theme "The Rights of the Child in the digital environment" the children donned their school uniforms with their shirts printed this year's passing a message of hope to the children who have been denied their rights in the modern world.

They marched to and from the Marich World Vision offices to the Sigor Junction carrying banners as they sang songs of protecting the African child from any form of humiliation.

The event was also attended by a number of non-governmental organizations that supported the little boys and girls by fighting for their rights and giving them an opportunity to get an education.

Speaking during the International Day of the African Child at Marich Primary School in the Sigor constituency area Umoja Development Organization coordinator Ambrose Meril said there have been many cases of child rights violations in the region that go unreported, hindering prosecution of perpetrators.

The organization based in West Pokot County and funded by UNICEF has been advocating for children’s and women’s rights in the county in order to eradicate gender-based violence.

The coordinator noted children need protection around the clock wherever they were, either in school or at home, with special attention given to children with special needs.

“Let it be our wish that also in our schools the rights of children are protected because if children complete their studies, they will be able to challenge the community positively,” he said.

He said that children in marginalized areas face challenges in terms of social and economic resources for development, unlike those in areas that are not marginalized, arguing that education is the best investment parents can put in their children to enable them to fight the challenges in the future.

‘‘Parents need to ensure their children receive a quality education and equip them with learning skills that will make them more resilient in the future,” he urged.

He said education empowers children to learn and develop the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing digital world.

Sigor MP Peter Lochakapong said in sub-counties like Sigor that are marginalized, children face many challenges in accessing and attending school.

Mr Lochakapong said the government is committed to ensuring that all school-age children attend school.

The MP said the largest share of the national budget has been set aside for the education sector and urged the money to be put to better use for the benefit of the region; otherwise, other counties making good use of the allocation will make progress in the field of education while the region lags behind.

He said in the budget, Sh4.9 billion has been set aside for a school feeding program, which will benefit pastoralists and communities by attracting their children to school and retaining them.

“School feeding programs are good because they help attract children to school,” he said.

He said he will continue to work with organizations that are advocating for the rights of children against FGM, early marriage, teenage pregnancies, substance abuse, and any other child’s best interest projects.

He calls on the government, organizations, leaders, and all other stakeholders to work together to protect the rights of all children in the county and the county at large.

Ministry of Education officer Mr Kennedy Machacha vowed to never allow children’s rights to be violated, saying he would rather leave his job than allow children’s rights to be violated while he was in authority.

West Pokot Director of Children Services Philip Wapopa explained that the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, under Article 53, recognizes the right of every child to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labour.