Friday 16th June 2016, Dar es salaam: Over 500 children from all over Dar es Salaam came together to celebrate the Day of the African Child at JMK Youth Park, (Kidongo Chekundu). For the first time since its start, the Siku Ya Mtoto event was graced by a child as guest of honour. 9 year old Tumaini John addressed other children at the park reminding them that children are agents of change and can contribute to a better world.
The event was hosted by C-Sema, which runs the National Child Helpline (116) in collaboration with the government of the United Republic of Tanzania. With support form Population Council, the Delegation of European Union in Tanzania, Christian Social Service Commission, Asas Dairies, Elimika Wikiendi, Children’s Dignity Forum and over 20 other partners, children came together to play, compete, learn and simply celebrate their childhood. It was a day where children took the lead in the celebrations & had fun doing it too.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated every year to remind us of the value of our children, their importance, and their dignity. This year’s theme is “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development”. The African rising narrative needs to be inclusive of children – in accessing services like education, health, nutrition and protection regardless of a child’s gender, economic background, religion or ethnicity.
In the last two decades, significant positive outcomes for children have been recorded across the continent. These include higher school attendance rates, lower child death rates, increased access to basic services and decreasing gender disparity, among others. However, significant gaps remain. The rate of child poverty remains high on the continent with about two-thirds of the children experiencing two or more deprivations of their basic needs. Hunger and poverty therefore remain major concerns for Africa’s children. On health and wellbeing, significant numbers of children lack access to basic life-saving services such health, education and birth registration.
On education, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than half of the world’s out of-school children (34 million) and girls account for 54 per cent of the out-of-school population. 3 Despite progress made in realizing children’s rights to nondiscrimination, and to improve gender equality, the gap in access to education based on gender persists, and children with disabilities are a significant portion of out-of school children.
Children make up over 50% of Tanzania’s population and despite progress made, there are still a lot of gaps in ensuring all children live happy, healthy lives. This was noted by children during their songs, dances, & speeches as they communicated to adults their hopes & dreams.
Speaking on this year’s theme, children reminded the whole society on the importance ensuring all children are treated equally. “The society needs to recognize that all children deserve a brighter tomorrow,” was the message they chose to share with the World today.
Since 1991, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated as an international day to commemorate the sad events of 1976 where children in Soweto were massacred as they marched for their rights and to celebrate the African child today, appreciate their struggle and remind ourselves of the potential that each child holds.
Note to editors:
For more Information contact: Mr. Michael Marwa, Director National Child Helpline: Michael.email@example.com, (+255) 784 842 764.
About the National Child Helpline – The National Child Helpline Responds to children in need of care and protection through free telephone number 116 AND voice their concerns to policy and decision- makers Tanzania. 116 is free service available across all networks in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
About the #SikuYaMtoto Event: Siku Ya Mtoto is an event held every year on the Day of the African Child Traditionally, this day in Tanzania is filled with speeches and things mostly meaningful to grown-ups, but not as fun for children. SIku Ya Mtoto is a space for children to celebrate this important international day, learn and have fun! This year’s event was
Organizations which participated in this year’s event included; The Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania, Christian Social Service Commission, Asas Dairies, Children’s Dignity Forum, Flaviana Matata Foundation, Jamii Forums, Elimika Wikiendi, Roots & Shoots, Shule Direct, Reach for Change, Msichana Initiative, Ubongo Kids, Jenga Hub, World Possible, TCRF, Kiwohede, Baba Watoto Centre, Save the Children and PEN Tanzania.