STATEMENT BY FORMER PRESIDENT RAWLINGS ON THE OCCASION OF THE UNIVERSAL CHILDREN'S DAY
On the occasion of the United Nations Universal Children's Day, which falls today, I wish to call on all Ghanaians and members of the global family to take a minute's pause today to consider the welfare of children.
For us Ghanaians in particular and the same can be said for most cultures, children serve as an important aspect of the social structure because they ensure that various family lineages are perpetuated.
The naming of our children after their forebears significantly proves that when we bring forth children we do so not only in honour of our immediate living family and friends but our ancestors and of course we pray that they will grow into responsible adults so they can in future bring forth to continue that ancestry.
The question however is do we give children enough recognition as an integral wheel to the progress of our small family unit, our extended family unit or our nation as a whole?
Elsewhere in the world some children have been recruited as soldiers in senseless wars. In Ghana there may not be children trapped in such acts of barbarism but many Ghanaian children are forced into various form of labour from being porters at markets, selling all sorts of items on our dangerous streets, spending whole days at the farm or simply loitering around all day while their colleagues are in school.
Let us use this occasion to reflect on the fact that solving issues affecting our children requires collective effort and of course a great deal of commitment from successive governments. Children are our future as they bring joy, love and inspiration to us every single day.
Let us protect that part of us that we have created and show love, as it is not just enough to tout a commitment to early childhood development without the concomitant policy implementation strategies.
One of the major issues affecting our children today is education. While some of our children may not be attending school in spite of the existing legislation that gives every child that right, some of them are in school but are not receiving requisite education due to a lot of factors.
Majority of public funded schools, which are the only recourse for a huge percentage of our children population, are under-funded, with no textbooks, furniture and basic transport facilities.
Parents who cannot afford to purchase textbooks for their children end up realising that their children are receiving little or no education at school.
Indeed our education system is fraught with problems from teachers who are poorly paid to classrooms that have no roofs.
The scourge of poverty and untreatable diseases like HIV/AIDS are issues that directly affect our children and governments and relevant state agencies have to tackle these matters head on to guarantee our country's positive future.
As we mark the Universal Children's Day today I implore, government, Ghanaians, parents and potential parents alike to make a commitment to giving our children a better life for the future, as the bedrock of our nation is the child.
Parents do serve an integral role by the family education they give at home. That personal attention to detail through strict moral education and interest in the progress of the child through school and society is key to ensure that our children grow to become responsible citizens.
We all have a commitment to ensuring that the basic rights of children are respected and recognised. Today every adult should reflect on the challenges facing our children and endeavour to make a commitment to bringing up children under conditions that are conducive to childhood development.
Signed: Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings