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15.05.2004 Regional News

Don't make orphanages permanent home for children-Yaw Barimah urges

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Ashaiman, May 15, GNA -- Mr Yaw Barimah, Minister of Manpower Development and Employment on Friday noted that as a way of shirking parental responsibility some parents have found solace in placing their children in orphanages. He said in a strict sense, not all the children who find their way to the orphanages are orphans; however, the concept of orphanages is not in consonance with the normal way of bringing up children.

"Under no circumstance can an orphanage replace the family", Mr Barimah stated, and called on parents to endeavour to raise children that they could cater for, while the youth must also wait until they are matured before producing children in order to stop child abandonment, child labour and trafficking. He was delivering the keynote address at a durbar of chiefs and people of Ashaiman, near Tema to mark the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, which falls on Saturday.

The day, which was organised by the Ghana National Commission on Children is being celebrated under the theme: "Stabilizing the family through shared support." The Minister said the days were gone when people boasted with the number of children they have because the emphasis now is on the quality of the brainpower and skills that the youth have and how productive they were being employed for their own benefit and their parents and society.

For those who could not restrict themselves, Mr Barimah advised that they take advantage of the family planning programme to seek professional advice which must be pursued to logical conclusion because, "the current population growth of 2.7 percent is simply too high". To ensure that children were disciplined and have a stable family, he entreated parents to always spend time at home and monitor their upbringing, household chores, give direction and counselling according to their wishes and communicate freely with the family since these bring about cohesion and stability. These healthy relations in the family, he said, could save a lot of time and unfortunate situations in future.

He urged parents to endeavour to look after the children so that they are not plunged into child labour, saying that a recent study showed that nearly half of approximately 250 million child labourers in the world are school drop- outs. Most of them are deprived of affection and food, while beatings, insults, punishment and sexual abuse were very common. He called on the churches, traditional elders, opinion leaders, non governmental organisations and the media to speak against these negative attitudes in order to create stability in the families, society and the country as a whole.

He commended the United Nations for instituting the Day in 1994 and the organisers for creating a forum to discuss the issue which would remind people around the world about the importance of founding and keeping a good family that would bring about peace. Mr Kofi Poku Adusei, Deputy Minister for Women and Children's Affairs said research findings indicate that almost all the problems in the country have poverty as their root, hence the Ministry has adopted economic empowerment of women as a priority issue. He said they are also dealing with the problem of gender disparity in employment, education and economic well-being, as well as the protection of the rights of women and domestic violence, among others.

Women are also encouraged to actively participate in decisions that affect them and their family, while plans are underway to revisit the family planning programme. In a welcoming address, Mr Samuel Evans Ashong Narh, Tema Municipal Chief Executive noted that some parents in their pursuits of material wealth spend virtually no useful time with their families and that husband, wife and children gradually grow emotionally apart thus leading to broken homes.

The children therefore, develop deviant habits on the blind side of their parents and eventually become social liabilities and this unfortunate situation demand that individuals and parents pause and re-assess their priorities regarding their relationship with their families. Activities marking the occasion include a nation broadcast by the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, and float by children and families through some principal streets of Accra.