Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge says Zambia is still confronted with the challenge of eliminating child victimization, saying hardly a day passes without reported cases of child defilement.
Mr Musenge said the country was still facing setbacks in addressing child abuse cases such as defilement, girl’s school drop outs, early marriages and child neglect among other issues of concern.
He said this in a speech read on his behalf by the Copperbelt Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Georgina Zulu Ndeketeya Kasapato during the Copperbelt province joint commemoration of the Day against Child Labour and the Day of an African Child held in Luanshya yesterday.
“As a nation we are proud to state that we have made tremendous progress in the provision of child education, but we are still facing challenges with eliminating child abuse to create an enabling environment to safeguard children’s rights,” Mr Musenge said.
He said the celebration gives Children worldwide an opportunity to participate in issues affecting their rights and wellbeing while at the same time, it offers member states of the African Union including Zambia an opportunity to refocus their attention on addressing child abuse.
Mr Musenge noted that while reflecting on the 50 years of independence, the day of the African child provides a moment to take stalk of the progress made in addressing outstanding challenges into the full realization of the plight of all children.
Mr Musenge further appealed to all stakeholders to partner with government in ensuring the provision of compulsory education for all children and imploring children to desist from vices that would disrupt them from achieving intended goals in the attainment of education.
And Luanshya District Commissioner Harold Mbaulu said government has created an enabling environment for compulsory education for all children and was against all forms of child labour as provided in the constitution and the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act.
“As provided for in the Act Cap 274, a child is defined as any person below 18 years and minimum age employment considers any person less than 18 years of age to be child. In Luanshya we need to work as a team to totally eliminate any forms of child labour” he said.
Mr. Mbaulu also noted the recent developments in the education sector such as the construction of classrooms, new schools and the recruitment of teachers countrywide as shown that government was committed to ensuring that education which is a human right was enjoyed by all Zambians.
He said Zambia at 50 was mature, therefore the urgent call to support and care for street and other vulnerable children by increasing the learning capacity.
And Luanshya District Education Board Secretary Feston Mtonga appreciated government’s role in upholding laws against child labour where an indication of government’s desire to find common solutions to child labour and trafficking amongst common forms of child abuse.
Mr Mtonga said the Day of an African Child and the Day against Child Labour should be used to reflect on the plight of an African child.
And representing children, Tama Phiri a grade ten pupil at Luanshya Girls High School called on government to put in place comprehensive and appropriate legal provision to protect children against any form of abuse and exploitation.
Tama said government should intensify efforts on the rehabilitation and reintegration of street children into schools as there were still a number of children on the streets.
She also appealed to non- governmental organizations and other social service providers to make themselves known and accessible to children in need.
Zambia today joined the rest of the world and African countries in the commemoration of the day against child labour and the day of the African child which pays tribute to thousands of children who dies in Soweto during South Africa’s liberation struggle.