International law acknowledges the vulnerability and delicacy of children by the implementation of distinct rights for children aimed at their protection and safe guarding. The Convention of The Rights of the Child of 1989 defines the term ‘child’ as ‘any human being below the age of 18years, unless under the law applicable to the child, maturity is attained earlier. Some states prefer to recognize one as an adult at 16.
Children’s right dates back to as far as the halt of the First World War in the midst of the adaptation of the Declaration of Geneva, in 1924. The recognition process was later carried forth in 1959 by the United Nations however the recognition of these rights becomes more apparent and effective on the 20th November 1989.
Though the world is collectively moving forward at upholding children rights, African progress is phlegmatic primarily in the sphere of education. Although Africa has made significant progress in the field of education a number of challenges continue to hinder the very essence of children rights. Unfortunately UNICEF couple of years back sited that there is still an astonishing number of 9million children of primary school-age who are still excluded from enjoying their right to basic education. Wars, foreign debt, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, orphans, nomadic children and natural disasters are some of the daunting challenges hindering education progress in African countries.
Another impeding and even more devastating violation of children rights is military use of children. UNICEF indicates that through academic literature it is estimated that 300,000 children today still form part of armed forces worldwide. Africa alone breeds 120,000 children soldiers of the given amount. In the Central African Republic alone, an estimation of 6,000 to10, 000 boys and girls are members of armed groups instead of being students and enjoying their right to basic education. In 2014, an astonishing number of 9000 children soldiers were reported to be at the forefront of the South Sudan defense.
Shocking? Nauseating really, the world in which we are confined to on the dawn of The Millennium Development Goals 2015 whose aim was to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling .In essence this is really the only route in achieving all other set goals for education drastically eradicating poverty and promotes gender equality.
The UNICEF along with certain African countries are however fighting the good fight. It is pivotal that we acknowledge Southern Africa for its attempt to uphold children’s rights by all means necessary. Most countries are pushing for free basic education, it is still debatable if free equivalents quality in this matter however compared to other parts of Africa southern Africa is progressing quite well. Not only with education but also with military use of children, one might argue that this is primarily because Southern Africa does not experience a lot of political unrest compared to the rest of Africa however it is the fight to maintain peace and resolve political and territorial differences diplomatically that has managed to spare the innocent lives of children, something all African countries should consider.
Are we there yet? Have we finally won the fight for children rights? No. We might be trying however it defeats the cause when children in some parts of Africa are holding a gun instead of a pencil. Denying children access to school for cultural, religious and military reasons continues to build a continent that is still embosomed by the chains of gender inequality, war for children who grow up in such environment end up normalizing the status quo , poverty and a few others that the Millennium development goals aims to eradicate.