June 16 has been set aside as Day of the African Child.
The Day traces its history to the turbulent days of Apartheid South Africa where in 1976, the armed forces of the racist regime shot and killed the African children who had taken to the streets to protest Bantu education and negative effects had on the quality of its products.
But since then the whole of Africa has adopted the Day, setting it aside in the calendar as a time when the continent reaffirms its commitment towards producing a better generation of future leaders through tackling and solving the various problems that are faced by children across the continent.
There is no doubt that with the rest of mankind going through difficult times as a result of the global economic downturn, it is the most vulnerable, like children, who will bear the worst brunt.
Because parents feel the pinch as a result of the difficult economic times, there is always the temptation to cut back on the amount of time their children spend either at school, growing up or playing with others at the playgrounds.
The tendency during these trying times is to expedite fast-track the growth of children by forcing them to assume adult responsibilities and chores that bring food on the table.
That will no doubt prove counterproductive in the long term.
We call on the Government of Botswana to be extra vigilant in ensuring that children continue to receive all the necessary protection from the authorities ÔÇô including against such evils like child labour, slavery and or child trafficking.
We call on the Government of Botswana to ensure that difficult as it is, economically, no Motswana child goes hungry because their parents are too poor to put bread on the table.
We call on the Government of Botswana to ensure that even as many important national public projects are deferred for lack of funds, no Motswana child is unable to go to primary school because the parents cannot afford school uniform or that the parents would rather hire out their children to the farms so as to augment the family income.
One of the fastest growing evils against mankind happens to be child trafficking.
This is a kind of latter day slavery which Botswana Government should fight with all that it has.
By admission of some Government agencies, there are Batswana who, as we speak, are trapped abroad and are victims of human trafficking.
We note that the Botswana Government is doing everything to safely bring back home these people. We encourage our authorities not to rest until these citizens have been set free from the shackles of this modern day slavery.
At an individual level, we call on parents to set aside resources, however meager, to allow a descent education, livelihood and growth for their children.
It is only when we take personal responsibilities for our children that “The Day of the African Child”, which is June 16, will have meaningful and long lasting symbolism.