New York, Thursday, June 19, 2014 – The African Union Permanent Observer Mission and the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations have co-hosted the Day of the African Child celebrations at UN Headquarters in New York, renewing the commitment to uplift the wellbeing of children.
The celebrations under the theme: “A Child Friendly, Quality, Free and Compulsory Education for African Children” attracted several high profile UN officials, Ambassadors, educators, entertainers and African children based in New York.
Children performed songs, recited poems and presented statements demanding children’s increased access to education in Africa.
In line with the theme, several speakers – including UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Martin Mogwanja – who participated in the two panel discussions reaffirmed the need to increase investment in the education sector, protection of children from abuse and partnerships to empower children.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a message delivered by Chef de Cabinet Susanna Malcorra during the panel discussion, noted that there has been a remarkable rise in primary and secondary school enrolment across Africa over the past 10 years.
“We need to make sure that the crucial objective of education for girls features prominently in the post-2015 development framework,” the UN chief said. “Today we should also pause to remember the kidnapped girls of Nigeria, who only wanted to go to school. We demand their immediate release.”
Zambia assured the international community of its commitment to continue promoting the wellbeing of children, provision of quality education, eliminate and prevent violence against children.
The statement of the Zambian Mission at the event read in part:
“As Zambia turns 50 this year, it remains resolute to promote the welfare of its population, especially children to mould them into future leaders.
“The Zambian Government is engaging all stakeholders, including traditional leaders, religious leaders and the civil society to end early, child and forced marriages.
“We are committed to eliminate all forms of child abuse including defilement, child neglect and reduce the number of girl children that drop-out of school.”
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of AU, declared June 16 as the Day to celebrate the African child in commemoration of the 1976 massacre of school children by the Apartheid regime in Soweto, South Africa. The students were killed during a protest against the education system designed to further the interests of the Apartheid regime.
CHIBAULA D. SILWAMBA (Mr.)
First Secretary for Press and Public Relations
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations