News / Africa

Report: African Children Need 'Education Friendly' Laws to Thrive

Children listen to a school teacher after the reopening of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu, Mali, February 1, 2013.Children listen to a school teacher after the reopening of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu, Mali, February 1, 2013.
x
Children listen to a school teacher after the reopening of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu, Mali, February 1, 2013.
Children listen to a school teacher after the reopening of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu, Mali, February 1, 2013.
Jennifer Lazuta
A new study finds opportunities for millions of children around the world are being limited by the failure of governments to enact adequate policy measures in areas seen as vital to a child’s healthy development. Researchers say this is particularly true in Africa, where critical gaps exist between what can be done and what is being done.

In a report released Wednesday, the World Policy Analysis Research Center, a University of California-based data center that studies global social and economic policy, said that while many countries around the world have made “impressive advances” when it comes to improving the lives of children, it isn’t enough.

Jody Heymann, founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center and a lead author on the report, and a team of researchers spent seven years looking at data from 193 countries around the world.

Heymann said that many countries have made great progress in improving a child’s welfare, but the goal now should be to see a child not only survive, but also to thrive.

“Certainly, there is no more fundamental goal than child survival. But for any of us - in our own families, communities, neighborhoods - we wouldn’t be satisfied with child survival being enough. So what would a reasonable goal mean? I think an equal chance at healthy development during childhood and an equal chance for a full and productive adulthood that follows it,” said Heymann.

Heymann said this includes such things as providing affordable, quality education to all school-age children, enforcing laws on child labor, enacting measures that allow parents to better provide for their children, and promoting equal rights and anti-discrimination policies, especially for girls and disabled children.

She said that when it comes to implementing and enacting such measures, government action does make a difference. One example is education.

“With the Millennium Development Goals, there was a great commitment to primary education, and in fact, there’s been incredibly important progress. Right now, only eight countries remain that charge any tuition for primary. Because there’s practically no tuition charge, children around the world, regardless of whether their families are living in poverty or not, get to attend primary school,” said Heymann.

Heymann said the same commitment must now be made for secondary education.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, more than 60 percent of countries still charge for secondary education. This has forced many students, particularly the poor and marginalized, to drop out after primary school.

Implementing such initiatives isn't always easy, especially in developing nations, where governments often face disproportionate political and financial challenges.

The African Union’s head of social welfare, John Strydom, recognizes these challenges, but said there is no reason why a country cannot adhere to the AU’s charters and action plans relating to the rights and welfare of children.  

“There is no excuse that our children should go uncared for on this continent. Some of our low-income countries are doing very well. So that is not in itself a reason why the needs of children cannot be catered for," Strydom. "The chances that they implement the provisions of these legal instruments are very good, because they have to report back to the African Union and it will not look good if they haven’t done proper, or good, child-friendly budgeting.”

In cases where funding is a concern, Heymann said there still are many policies with no that have associated financial cost that can improve a child’s opportunities.

“[One example is] child marriage. Child marriage is a huge barrier to girls completing secondary school. It puts their health at tremendous risk because girls are far more likely to marry young than boys. When they do, their own health is threatened by early pregnancy, which tends to follow, and the health of their child,” she said.

Heymann said the data shows that once countries implement and enact measures, such as a minimum age for marriage, major transformations can be seen on the overall welfare of children within the course of just a few years.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs