The Day of the African Child is on June 16 — when events are held on the continent and around the world. Here are 16 things you should know about this day and why children’s rights in Africa are so vital.
1. The June 16 annual event honours students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting against education injustice and inequality in the apartheid regime.
2. It was designated as Day of the African Child in 1991 by the African Union and every year events are organised to promote children’s rights.
3. This year’s theme is “Right to participate: let children be seen and heard”.
4. Thirty million of the world’s 57 million children out of school are in sub-Saharan Africa.
5. The biggest event this year is a youth takeover of the Africa Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by 500 young people from countries all over the continent.
6. On June 16, there will be 560 days left until the Millennium Development Goals deadline of the last day of 2015 — MDG2 was to ensure that all children in the world are in school and learning.
7. The Day of the African Child theme last year was “eliminating harmful social and cultural practices affecting children: our collective responsibility”.
8. One in six children born in sub-Saharan African do not live to their fifth birthday — even though child mortality fell by 45 percent between 1990 and 2012.
9. More than 100 events in more than 40 countries are being held around the world to mark Day of the African Child and Youth Action Month.
10. A campaign to end child marriage across Africa was launched in May by the African Union. One in three girls in low and middle-income countries are married by the age of 18.
11. One of the aims of the Day of the African Child is to highlight harmful practices such as genital mutilation. Thirty million girls in Africa are in danger of undergoing FGM in the next decade.
12. The poorest children in sub-Saharan Africa are four and a half times more likely to be out of school than the richest children.
13. By the year 2050 almost one in three of the world’s children under 18 will be African.
14. The children of African women with at least five years of schooling have a 40 percent higher chance of survival.
15. UNICEF and partners secured the release of more than 1000 children from armed groups in the Central African Republic in 2015, more than five times the total number of children released in 2013.
16. There are wide variations in school enrolment between African countries — ranging from 37 percent for boys and 34 percent for girls in Eritrea to 98 percent for both boys and girls in Tanzania. —aworldatschool.org