This year's Easter School for Children has ended in Tamale with a commitment by Ghanaian children to raise ¢1 billion within a year to support a project dubbed, "Operation rescue the missing child @ 50".
The project seeks, among other things, to search for all neglected children and help integrate them into society.
"We are, therefore, calling on all stakeholders to help us realise our goals or to support this worthy cause." The participants sent an SOS message to the general public in a communiqué at the end of the school.
The Easter School for Children was organised by the Children's Rights International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and sponsored by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
The theme for this year's school, “Looking for the missing child @ 50”, was aimed, among other things, at ensuring that all neglected children participate in national development, as well as nurture their sense of nationalism and responsibility. It was attended by 200 participants from all the 10 regions of the country.
The communiqué called on the former and current President to reconcile now because "we need peace and want to be proud of our Presidents", adding, “We believe their unity can facilitate development."
On the energy crisis, it said the impact was affecting children in their academic development and undermining their moral standing, since some children used the darkness to engage in promiscuity.
The communiqué called on the government to create opportunities for children to develop open-mindedness, creativity, assertiveness, practical way of doing things and to be well versed in national issues.
Furthermore, it asked the government to ensure good governance and provide quality education, good health facilities and good nutrition to enhance the total development of children.
The communiqué demanded accountability and transparency from political, religious and traditional leaders, as well as technocrats.
It called on the media to play a positive role by drawing attention to issues that affected the well-being of children.
The communiqué asked members of the society to respect the rights of children and treat them with dignity, and also urged international bodies like the UNICEF to provide resources to help in the process of looking for the missing child.
With regard to their responsibilities, the children pledged to respect their parents and elders in society, as well as take their education seriously.
Earlier in a presentation, a lecturer at the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale, Prof. Saa Dittoh, said as future leaders, children needed to be open-minded in terms of political and economic ideologies.
He underscored the importance of good governance to the development of children but pointed out that children could not contribute to good governance if they were neglected by society.
“I believe good governance is still eluding Ghana @ 50, especially at the district, sub-district and community levels and all of us, led by our children, should fight for it through campaigns to ensure the promotion of good governance and progress in the country,” he advised.
The Tamale Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, called for stringent measures to fight against all forms of child labour and child trafficking, child abuse, commercial sex, exploitation of children and streetism, and urged district assemblies to implement government policies aimed at protecting the rights and well-being of children.
In a welcoming address, the Executive Director of Children's Rights International, Mr Bright Kweku Appiah, said the search for the missing child had become necessary because children, irrespective of their background, must survive.
He said the inability of policies, traditions and customs to recognise the dignity of children had been the major hindrance to child survival, and appealed for greater social responsibility to address the problem.
A Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF Ghana, Mr Eric Okrah, said if the country was determined to attain a middle-income status by 2015, and not to perpetuate poverty and low productivity, then it ought to ensure that children grew up in good health, enjoyed quality basic education and were raised in a protective environment.