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The burden of responsibility for children in need of care from government will soon be reduced as Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) prepare to assume full charge over initiatives and matters relating to the rights of the child to influence policy and decision making.
It is in that context that a four days national convention bringing together NGOs and CSOs associated with promoting the rights of the child is slated for the 25th – 28th June 2019, at Tlotlo Hotel in Gaborone.
Key among the objectives of the event is the creation of a platform for engagement between individuals and organizations providing services for children on the one hand and relevant government bodies on the other, over policy matters relating to the welfare and protection of the rights of the child
The forum is expected to offer opportunity for stakeholders to showcase the work they do in the service of the rights of the child. They will share lessons and best practices to the extent though their mandate experience they conceived and visualized the future of the child.
Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana pointed out, “This is the culmination of an initiative spanning some eleven months ago, specifically August 2018 at the behest of 46 NGOs for across the entire Botswana.”
An Interim Executive Committee was then elected consisting of SOS Children as Chair and Childline Botswana as the Secretariat.
The express purpose of the IEC was to coordinate, establish and register an independent network dedicated to issues appertaining to the rights of the Child.
Once in place the network, according to Chepete, was to be facilitate interaction on issues of mutual interest between the government and NGOs.
She added, “The rallying point for all the stakeholders scheduled to participate at the forum is shared concern for the currently limited provision both in law and resource allocation to matters exclusively pertaining to the implementation and the realization of the rights of the child.”
“More importantly, the last leg of the event, namely the 28th is scheduled to host the first ever general assembly of the Botswana Network for Children’s rights. We expect it to be spectacular in many respects,” elaborated Chepete.
To tackle the stated challenges, a number of topics of strategic significance with relevance to policy and national interest have been lined up for panel discussions. Robust engagement through group discussions will be guided by resourceful people with remarkable background and predisposition to rights of the child and advocacy issues.
Some of the issues listed for presentation and debates are; Botswana budget analysis covering expenditure from 2015/2016 up to 2017/2018, State of Child Protection CSOs in Botswana as well as Reflections on the quality and Accessibility of Public Education System in Botswana.
Another critical issue involves discussion of the role of the media and the challenge of finding balance between public interest reporting and ensuring protection of minors in Botswana.
NGOs in Botswana have generally played an exceptional role in promoting the rights of the child and providing services to children in need of care over the years.
The services and support ranged from provision of early childhood education to care for HIV infected children as well as intervention on child rights violations or where a child needed protection.
They also successfully elevated issues pertaining to the rights of the child into the public sphere even to the purview of the legal fraternity resulting in formulation of the Children’s Act.
A source who preferred anonymity expressed delight saying, “At least we can safely presume from now on that all the decisions, resolutions and positions to be taken by CSOs would be owned by us truly.”
She said there have been instances where CSO gatherings ended up having their original agendas hijacked and ultimately diverted by government officials.
“The inclination was then to go along with the flow as we depended on their funding, despite the problematic effect of such conduct. So this is a grand accomplishment for many reasons, “concluded the source.