Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, says Ghana must give a central place to children by providing them with the necessary opportunities to secure their future. This, she said, was necessary for young people to grow healthily, express themselves strongly and realize their potentials.
Mrs Torkonoo said this in a speech read on her behalf at a symposium organised by Compassion International Ghana to commemorate the Day of the African Child on the theme, “Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunities for Children.”
The Day of the African Child was instituted to honour the about ten thousand school children who participated in the 1976 Soweto Uprising protesting the poor quality of their education.
The Day is celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, to create awareness of the continuing need to improve education for African children. Mrs Torkonoo said there was the need to draw attention to the linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Children’s Charter to inspire state parties to accelerate efforts towards realising all children’s rights.
The SDGs seek to end poverty, eradicate hunger, promote health, secure education, effect gender equality, increase access to water and sanitation, promote peace, justice and strong institutions and partnerships. She said though the Ghanaian community was alert of its obligations due to the activities of advocacy groups and media reportage, much more needed to be done to infuse confidence into children to enable them to stand their grounds.
“I will like to humbly urge initiatives that consistently remind young people that it is okay to ask questions, research and contribute their own views from private research on the way things are supposed to be done.” This, according to her, would empower young people to grow with leadership skills and values that could stem the harmful tide of poverty and inequalities.
Mrs Torkonoo indicated that about 30 per cent of children experience severe deprivation in education and 39 per cent in sanitation. She said children in rural areas were twice likely to experience stunted growth due to poor nutrition as compared with urban counterparts.
She said 34 per cent of girls between the ages of five to 14years were engaged in child labour, while many Ghanaian children were faced with abuses in the home, community, school and work place. She said the country in line with its international commitments and national obligations had put in place legal framework that would ensure the promotion and protection of children’s right which is enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and other subsidiary policies.
Professor Mrs Olivia A. T. Frimpong Kwapong, Lecturer, University of Ghana, speaking on the role of the family in ensuring the empowerment of the child, urged parents to allow children to explore and come out with their own potentials.
She said the role of parents towards the upbringing of their children was an important venture that could not be traded for anything in the world.
She said instilling home values in children was the foremost responsibility of parents and urged them to train their children to be conscious of God as their solid foundation because without this there would be chaos.
“Do not waste much time in building your career at the expense of your children,” “Chasing civilization is making us lose more than we can imagine. Let us balance it because fathers especially are missing out in the upbringing of their children,” she said.