MOTHER of Millions Foundation (MoMF) has asked the Government to revise or amend the Prison Act Cap 97 in order to enhance the protection and rights of circumstantial children under Section 56.
The charitable organisation is of the view that if the Act is revised or amended, it will enhance access to education by circumstantial children being kept by their mothers in various correctional facilities across Zambia.
MoMF Founder and Chief Executive Officer Faith Masupa said the Act should embrace some of the articles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which include the right to early childhood education, right to social security, and the right to good health services.
Ms Masupa implored the Government to prioritise the provision of a safe environment for circumstantial children in all correctional facilities.
"Considering that the needs of the child differ from those of the mother, this can include building 'Mother-Baby Cells' to separate the children and their mothers from the rest of the inmates so that the mothers can provide adequate attention to their children," she said.
Ms Masupa said this on Wednesday when she appeared before a Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology chaired by Patriotic Front Lubanseshi Member of Parliament George Mwamba.
She was submitting on the access to education for circumstantial children in Zambia's correctional facilities.
On accountability of children that leave prisons, Ms Masupa said there was need to enhance accountability of circumstantial children while their mothers continued to serve sentences.
Despite the Prison Act providing that children be handed to the Welfare authorities as maybe approved, Ms Masupa said currently, there was no proper accountability and follow-up mechanisms by the Welfare Department to ensure that children that left prison and handed to them were tracked consistently when they were placed in various drop-in centres or orphanages.
The committee heard that incarcerated women had provided MoMF with a feedback and concerns relating to their children that had been placed in orphanages when they ran away and stayed on the streets.
Ms Masupa called on the ministries of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, and the Education to come up with policies, guidelines and structures to focus on integrating circumstantial children into Government schools.
She appealed for implementation of a scholarship fund to support such children in view of the fact that their incarcerated mothers were facing grief and other difficulties.