Over a hundred children from both primary and secondary schools gathered yesterday at the Octave Wiéhé Auditorium in Réduit for a Children's forum on the theme 'Child, express yourself!'. The event was organised by the National Children Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare to mark the Day of the African Child 2017.
The forum provided a platform to exchange knowledge and information on the rights and responsibilities of children as spelt out by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child. The objective was to enable children to become ambassadors of their rights so that they sensitise their friends, schoolmates, family members and neighbours on this issue. Children were given the opportunity to express their views to and ask questions to a panel comprising representatives of the Ministry and the University of Mauritius.
Present at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, recalled that Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which encourages adults to listen to the opinions of children, respect their views and involve them in decision-making. She also cautioned the children that the right for them to express their views freely should not lead to verbal abuse. "Listening is two-way and as you want to be listened, you should also listen to your parents who care about your well-being and want you to do well and succeed in life," the Minister told them.
To the parents, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo stressed their primary responsibility for the upbringing, protection and development of their children. In respect of parental responsibilities on the sharing of values, the Minister appealed to parents to help their children grow up to reach their full potential. She listed out initiatives undertaken by Government to support children's personal development and improve their quality of life. They include the launching of the '16 Days - 16 Rights' campaign whose objectives are to enable children to learn about their rights and to sensitise other people about these rights; the Nine Year Basic Education Reform and the upcoming Children's Bill.
Day of the African Child
The Day of the African Child 2017, commemorated on 16 June, aims at raising awareness for the situation of children in Africa, and on the need for continuing improvement in education. It was first established by the Organisation of the African Unity in 1991 to honour the memory of the hundreds of young South African schoolchildren who were shot down on the streets of Soweto by security forces during a march in protest against the poor quality of education in 1976.
The theme this year is 'The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity' to call attention to the linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Children's Charter, with the goal of inspiring States Parties to accelerate efforts towards realising all children's rights as provided by the Charter, as a contribution towards accelerating the promotion and protection of all children's rights in Africa.