Young People in the Media (YPM) in collaboration with stakeholders in child
protection with support from UNICEF recently organized a daylong Inter-School
Drama Competition for Lower and Upper Basic Schools.
Inter-School Drama Competition was part of commemoration activities for the Day of the Africa Child with a local theme “Role of Children in Peace Building” held at the Marina International School Hall in Fajara.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Executive Coordinator of Young People in the Media, Abdou Jatta, who doubles as UNESCO GAPMIL Global Youth Ambassador, noted that the role of children in peace building was in line with the DAC Global theme.
He said the Global theme was the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment, and equal opportunity”.
Jatta added that the inter-school drama competition focuses on unity, peace-building, nationalism, democracy and tribalism related to children towards peace-building.
He further expounded on the general objective of the DAC celebrations in 2017 which was aligned with Agenda 2063, noting that the AU Committee of expert developed and adopted Agenda 2040 formally known as “Africa’s Agenda for Children: 2040 Fostering an Africa Fit for Children”.
“It centers around aspiration 6 of the continental Agenda 2063, an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children by focusing on children and youth as the drivers of Africa’s sustainable development.”
For her part, Fatim Badjie-Sinyan, Vice Chairperson Board of Director of YPM, said since 1991, when the Day of the African Child was first initiated by the African Union, it was set aside to honour the students who claimed their right to education and paid dearly with their lives in Soweto, South Africa on 16 June 1976.
Mrs Badjie noted that this has become an opportunity to examine progress towards health, education, equality and security for all African children.
She explained that advocacy day such as DAC further advocate for children, to hear from children themselves, and encourage policy makers to do the same and act.
“We know that in the past, African governments had committed to peace building, yet, meaningful child participation in the affairs of state, community and family have been rare,” she said.
She added: “This is an occasion for everyone to acquire a better understanding of meaningful child participation and peace building so that we promote and practice truly meaningful child participation towards peace building.”
Hence, with the Day of the African Child being celebrated across the African continent, issues of immediate and pressing concern would be tabled.
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Mr Eustace Cassell, highlighted the four major rights of children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Such rights, he said, are right to health and thrive; education and development, protection from violence and practices and abuse, and participation in decision-making.
“Your roles are very pivotal in the implementation of all these rights,” he told the participants.
Mr Cassell further expounded on the political repressions many children directly or indirectly suffered from abuse, violence, neglect and discrimination.
He reaffirmed UNICEF’s continued support to partner with global and local stakeholders in this process to ensure that peace-building initiatives that aim at using children as agents of change at the school and community levels.
The Director Department of Social Welfare, Madam Fanta Bai Secka, expounded that accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in The Gambia could not be achieved without nurturing the culture of peace and nonviolence amongst children.
She emphasised that peace not only comes from being able to contribute the best towards creating a world that supports everyone but it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.