Day of the African child: Anglophone Crisis, a Barrier to Education

The 2021 edition of the Day of the African Child was observed this week under the theme “A Child-friendly quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa“. But this may seem farfetched for some of the children caught up in the middle of a gruesome civil war in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. The plight of children in some parts of the these regions beside the daily struggles of life is being unable to attend school due to the socio-political climate.

Mrs. Rosaline Obah Akah, National President of the Cameroon Community Media network and who also doubles as a gender activist, told Bamenda Online that  “For more than five years now, the Anglophone crisis has not been favourable to the girl child in particular, especially because most people don’t see the importance of educating the girl child”

Quality Education is a right to every child

Mrs. Akah says that with the increasing constraints on family budgets, the cost of displacement and other hardships, many parents prefer to drop  their children, and in many cases the girl child from school. The situation in some localities is worst she said, with not only the girl child not permitted to go to school, but with the schools completely shut down because of the war.

In Some communities like Bamessing, Awing, Bafut, Bali, Widikum, Batibo, many parts of Boyo, Menchum and Bui divisions, schools have not been running for over four years now. Many children have been forced to flee with their parents and those left cannot attend schools.

These remaining children who cannot afford the cost of displacement are abused on daily basis, others sent to early marriages, sexually assaulted by men with guns, some drafted into arm groups as informants, fighters, cooks and sex toys.

For Mrs. Akah, this year’s theme could not have been any timelier given the scale of abuses suffered by Northwest children. The theme of this year’s celebration is a reminder that the population, communities and families need to take special commitments to make sure that their messages to the warring parties is not to “used children as their target during Conflicts but rather children should have a quality free and compulsory education at every stage of their life”

She implores all to take the commitment to ensure safe, quality education for all children irrespective of their background. Education is a fundamental right to every child and must be respected.

The Day of the African child is observed every year on the June 16. This day was initiated by the Organization of African Unity (today African Union) in 1991 in remembrance of the 1976 Soweto massacre. The day is also observed in Cameroon with the holding of the children parliament, where school children are provided with the opportunity to ask decision makers questions on the several issues related to their future.

By Gilla Everdine

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