Education is a prerequisite for short and long-term economic growth. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40 percent of adults being able to read and write.

Failing to offer girls the same educational opportunity as boys, costs developing countries $92 billion each year according to a study by Plan International. That’s $1 trillion per decade in forgone earnings and unnecessary costs.

Gains in women’s education made the most significant difference in reducing malnutrition, out-performing a simple increase in the availability of food.

A 63-country study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that, more productive farming as a result of female education accounted for 43 percent of the decline in malnutrition achieved between 1970 and 1995.

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) Otiko Afisah Djaba, at a symposium ahead of the 2018 Day of The African Child dubbed, “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” organized by Compassion International Ghana on 15th June, 2018 in Accra, Mr. Forster Adzraku, Project Officer at the ministry noted that, in Ghana, children forms the majority of the population and there is the need to focus on this group when working to achieve the SDGs.

Saying, to achieve these SDGs, Africa must invest financially in the development of the African Child. “In 2030, every country must account for their achievements of all the 17 goals. So it is our collective responsibility and duty to also protect the rights of children and save them from abuse.”

Pointed out that, the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development charts an ambitious course for the coming decades and beyond and thus, the SDGs is a clarion call for a more equitable future for all and at their core is a commitment to leave no one behind especially children, with focus on the girl child.

He further explained that, the Sustainable Development can only deliver on the promise of equity if the children being left behind are known. The children who are being left behind are those children who still go through challenges in all the sectors including access to justice, education, health, protection, participation, leisure and play, among others.

According to him, 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 to develop programs and policies for implementing Agenda 2030, children should be at the centre-stage and ensure that no child is left behind in the drive towards sustainable economic development.

However, he said, in selecting the 2018 DAC theme, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) once again reconfirmed the importance of highlighting the linkages between Agenda 2030 and children’s rights, as well as stressing that the implementation of all 17 Agenda 2030 goals is crucial for the implementation of all rights for children.

Again, he said through its social interventions, Government has provided initiatives and programmes to increase enrolment and retention in schools, improve health care, create jobs, among others. This shows government commitment towards ensuring that children, irrespective of gender, race, language, geographical location or social status enjoy their basic rights.

“We therefore want to emphasize the need to promote education as a basic human right and a significant factor in the development of children, communities, and countries.
Opening classroom doors to all children, especially girls and children with disability will help break the intergenerational chains of poverty, because education is intrinsically linked to all development goals, such as supporting gender empowerment, improving child health and maternal health, reducing hunger, fighting the spread of HIV and diseases of poverty, spurring economic growth, and building peace,” he intimated.

“I wish to urge all of you gathered here to become child advocates or ambassadors with a renewed commitment towards alleviating the daily problems that children face. We must all be the watchdogs for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Children. Collaboration needs to be intensified and special intervention adopted to promote child rights. Ghana’s children are looking up to us for hope, something that will give them and all of us a better future: let us not therefore fail them in their time of need.

“Friends from the media, it is imperative that accelerated efforts are made to bring all children onboard in Ghana. This could be done when all partners come together to collaborate and share ideas towards making sure that all children in Ghana are in school and are retained in school.

“Government is leading this process by making sure that there is a peaceful and an enabling environment for all children to enjoy their rights. Government in the bid to further protect children has also formulated relevant laws such as the Children’s Act, Human Trafficking Act, Domestic Violence Act, among others. Ghana has also developed a Child and Family Welfare Policy and a Justice for Children Policy to make sure that we use existing community structures to better protect children in our families and communities,” reiterated.

Moving on, Mr. Forster said as a country, we must provide protection, security, knowledge, and most importantly good values through parental responsibility, improved teaching, discipline and love. “If we can help our youth to become positive, responsible and engaging members of society, this will only help in developing, not only a stronger and healthier community, but a safer one as well. It is important to stress these values and to create a path for future generations to follow.”

“Dear Children, as we celebrate this day, we want to assure you that, the government will continue to provide the enabling environment that you will need to flourish. Parents, caregivers, service providers and policy makers should also make sure that your rights and privileges are upheld. As Government and partners, we will do everything possible for the Ghanaian Child to enjoy your rights,” he assured.

Mr. Adzraku also reminded the children that,
they have the responsibility towards making very good use of the investments that are being channelled into their education, health and general wellbeing.

“We must work as a community and treat our children well, be each other’s keeper, treat someone’s child as you would treat your own, because, how we treat our children today will determine the future of Ghana and Africa. It is our duty to fight for what we love and if we say children are our future leaders, we must demonstrate it by taking action to ensure that we leave no child out or behind to achieve the 2030 Agenda at Sustainable Development for all Children in Africa,” he reemphasized.

By:Sammy Adjei/Newsghana.com.gh

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