‘Leave No Child Behind for Liberia’s Development’- Williete Mars
Monrovia – “Despite the visible challenges in Monrovia and other urban places, children in these areas are having far more better opportunities than our brothers and sisters in rural places. Why it should not be an issue of concern to focus on the protection of children when many kids have turned out to be breadwinners? It should be the other way around,” said child speaker Williete Mars.
Report by Mae Azango, [email protected]
The Day of the African Child (DAC) 2018 was commemorated on the theme, “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development,” across the continent. This year’s DAC theme builds on the momentum created by the DAC 2017 theme: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunity.”
The year’s theme emphasizes the need to mainstream children’s rights in all (Agenda 2030) developmental programs implemented by member States.
In observance of the DAC, Liberia’s Research and Development Networks child speaker Williete Mars read the African Child’s message with her own theme: “Leave No Child Behind for Liberia’s Development”.
“Despite the visible challenges in Monrovia and other urban places, children in these areas are having far more better opportunities than our brothers and sisters in rural places. Why should it not be an issue of concern to focus on the protection of children when many kids have turned out to be breadwinners? It should be the other way around,” said child speaker Williete Mars
“Can somebody convince me that it should not be a horn to blow for children’s empowerment when Liberian children remain disadvantaged not having comfortable, classrooms, good libraries, health facilities and recreational facilities? Why it cannot be an issue to discuss when equal opportunity is far from the reality as gaps are so visible in economic incomes of parents who are to care for the young ones?”
Speaking at the St Clements University College in Paynesville, Ms. Mars further stated while the 2017 DAC theme focused on locating Africa’s children generally within the 2030 Agenda, the 2018 theme highlights the need to ensure that ‘no child is left behind’ by specifically targeting those who are not benefitting from Africa’s growth and development. Thus, the overarching principle is inclusive development for children, that is, whenever undertaking programs and policies for implementing Agenda 2030, children should be at the center-stage.
She insists that all the African Union Member States should ‘ensure that no child is left behind.’
She further stated that the need to accelerate protection, empowerment and equal opportunity for Liberian children across the 15 counties cannot be overemphasized.
“If we should move forward as a country, the rights of children especially rights to education must comprehensively be taken in to account. Although, we have made some steps as in the Free and Compulsory Education Scheme in Liberia, but you all can agree with me that it has to a larger extent not made significant impacts. I can tell you that there are so many questions this generation of adults must answer. I am speaking today for the many children who could not afford the opportunity to go to school and get the Sunday school and Islamic childhood training. My heart even bleeds more for those who were conscripted as child soldiers and could not transition to youths who could acquire a career and contribute positively to the society,” Ms. Mars sadly.
Liberia Research and Development Networks, (LRDN) brought together students and several youth organizations, including Monrovia Reads, Monrovia Football Academy, Special Emergency Activity, Liberians Encouraging Students in Science and Technology, Nickel, Youths for Change Inc. The program also brought together parents and well-wishers to grace the occasion.
For his part, Ms. John S. M. Yormie, Executive Director, LRDN, said they had brought young people and groups together on this African Child Day in order for them to discuss and talk about problems affecting them.
“We have been around for a little over a year and we have engaged 50 or more communities in three counties, Grand Bassa, Nimba and Montserrado. We have been able to motivate more youths, who have gotten on board but our challenge has been lack of funding to run new ideas coming up. But we have been able to convince the public. We had a project with the Chinese Embassy, which was our major boost; we are using that as a success story to engage other communities,” said Yormie.
He disclosed that his LRDN has categories of young people whom they work with to create opportunities for them including learning how to do papers and proposals.
“Our major goal is to attract Liberian youth in academia, with key emphasis on research, because most of the problems around the world that have been solved by research, which is not very practical in our country. You find people just making laws and policies without making research and informed decision making positions so we want to breed a new culture of youth people that can grab the idea of research and adapt it in the culture as a way of life to move our country forward,” Yormie added.