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World Children’s Day 2020 – “Investing in our future means investing in our children”

November 20 marks the World Children’s Day and this year’s theme is “Investing in our future means investing in our children”. The notion was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improve children’s welfare.

World Children’s Day offers each of us an entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights and making efforts that will build a better world for children.

It is unfortunate that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in increased abuse and violation of children’s rights.

Covid-19 has impacted the lives of billions of children all over the world and has created a massive disruption in education.

In Zimbabwe, the pandemic has also disturbed access to essential services such as education, health, sanitation and water. In March 2020, the country witnessed a premature closure of schools due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. Such educational disruption affected access to educational guidance from educators.

Although measures such as the introduction of radio and online lessons were taken to help school children learn during lockdown, only urban school children had better access to such systems. 

In rural areas, children did not have that privilege. Adding on to the children’s aggravation, teachers also declared incapacitation when schools re-opened in September. Communities witnessed children coming back from school as early as 8:00am claiming that they would have been sent back home as there were no teachers in schools.

This World Children’s Day presents an important opportunity for adults to pay attention to the voices of children and help shape their future.

It is of great importance to also take children’s health into consideration as the country has witnessed an increase in Covid-19 cases in schools.  John Tallach Secondary School in Matabeleland North reportedly had 100+ positive cases.

A teacher at the school is quoted saying, “although the school has a full complement of nurses who are working around the clock attending to the positive as well as continuing to test the rest, testing is slowed down as they lack testing kits’’. The nation needs to ensure that children get proper PPE and are safe from the pandemic as children’s lives matter as well.

 In addition to the pandemic’s disruption, at some schools, children are only attending lessons twice a week due to inadequate infrastructure as schools have to observe social distancing.

In a bid to improve children’s learning conditions, it is of great importance to build more classrooms to ensure adequate infrastructure is available. On this World Children’s Day, it is of great interest to raise awareness on children who are still not able to enroll for secondary education in our rural communities due to poverty.

In some rural communities, after children complete the seventh grade, parents are unable to send them for form one as they cannot afford to pay tuition fees. Children are resorting to child marriages or seeking employment at an early age to support their families.

This has led to the violation of children’s right to basic education, hence moral and social development of the child is encouraged to build a better world for children.

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