This year, June 16, the Day of the African Child, emphasized a specific category of African children: street children, to draw attention to a serious threat posed to the stability and the structure of their lives as a result of factors like poverty, rural exodus, amongst other factors.
The Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology joined the rest of Africa in commemorating this day under the theme ‘Altogether for urgent action in favour of street children.’
The history of this day dates back to the 16 June 1976 massacre of black children in Soweto, South Africa.
The 2011 theme calls on African governments to take urgent action for the protection and the welfare of children living in the streets.
These conditions in African countries create a risk that children are forced to live on the streets and, despite the efforts made over several years by states as well as private sectors and families, the phenomenon of street children persists and increasingly appears to be part of daily life.
The objectives of the 2011 Day of the African Child are to contribute to the awareness of the dangers faced by street children and encourage the taking of urgent steps to protect them.
In addition, it meant to determine strategic guidelines keeping children off the streets and with their families as well as propose innovative strategies to ensure their care and protection amongst other objectives.
Speaking at the commemorations, Desmond Ramotlhagodi said, “As the leadership of this country from all fronts, we took it upon ourselves to make the fight against street children our business.”
He said children living on the streets are vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and inhuman treatment. Ramotlhagodi said street children are part of society and need support to enable them to make a contribution to the society and the community they live in.
He said 16 June is mainly used to reflect on the social ills and challenges faced by children and reaffirm our country’s commitment towards protection of children’s rights and their well being.
Ramotlhagodi requested the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology to consider making shelter for the street children to give them a place to stay while the relevant department is working on integrating them back to the society they belong.