A loud voice in the advocacy for the protection of the rights of children to access and quality of education, Achievement Center for Youth and Children (ACENYC), has seized the opportunity provided by the International Day for Girl Child, admitting 25 disadvantaged girls, ages 3 to7 years into its After School Library program. The group also provided 3 separate disadvantaged families’ children, all girls each with financial aid for an entire school year after Ebola. The children will be provided full tuition fees as well as uniforms, text books and book bags.
The group’s Executive Director, Shine Williams says it is the organization’s way of increasing access and quality of education in the Country. He encouraged parents, especially mothers at the program held on Saturday in Key hole, old road to take keen interest in educating their girl children. The Library is expected to be opened in the same Key Hole community as soon as the Ebola situation improves.
Speaking also at the program, Miss Elizabeth Reeves, a resident of the community urged mothers to stop using their girls children as gold diggers, adding that when the children are educated they as mothers won’t depend on the children using their bodies to survive.
A Mother Korto Johnson says, “I am so surprised that in the face of Ebola a group like yours is still finding way to help children, especially our girls is so much welcomed”. Thanks to you and your team.
Mr. Williams impress on the government and development partners that Liberia’s hope for a progressive future is bleak in the face of the Ebola outbreak that has made the ever grim situation of children and youths compound complex.
As a sober reflection marking the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child, ACENYC’s Executive Director Shine Williams says it is more than a moral obligation of the government and development partners to match rhetoric with actions in promoting the eroding rights of children. He says this calls for concrete commitment and judicious resource mobilization that will bail out the most disadvantaged category of the children population, girl.
This year’s theme for the celebration is dubbed: ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence,’ which Williams says is well thought out yet farfetched in the context of Liberia.
He says girl children in Liberia are saddled with manifold problems ranging from being victims of rape, no free access to education and health services especially reproductive health in the face of heightening teenage pregnancies.
He argues that poverty straddling across Monrovia to the rural areas is blamable for the unfortunate situation that has seen girls in the ages of twelve to fifteen indulging in commercial sex for the basic need of getting food for the day.
ACENYC is therefore protesting the fact that too much lip service has been paid to the empowerment of children since it became an embarrassing realization that Liberia failed to meet Millennium Development Goals that are linked to girl child and related Universal Education for the Girl Child.
Last year theme of the Day was Innovation for Girl Education with nothing to show for it in Liberia, asserts ACENYC Executive Director, wondering why should the government be signing onto protocols and reneging on same.
Given the sorry state of affairs for children in this national crisis occasioned by an unprecedented Ebola outbreak, policy regression and violation on the responsibility to protect the rights of children is especially blurred; as several children have been rendered orphaned by Ebola, something that must be arrested by conscious effort to dovetail children and women issues in national Ebola containment response strategy.
We should be thinking on what alternatives there are for educating children even as all schools are closed; we should not only be thinking about the thousands of orphaned children but taking actions to give them a lease of life; we should be considering protective strategies to make poverty induced rape compromises of teenage girls an anathema in the psyche of all and sundry.
ACENYC says there is the imperative to read into common place notion that children are the future not only for the sake of it but for the compelling truth it represents, “if we actually care about the long term prosperity and stability of a country making progress backwards.”
Whilst thanking all those who in diverse ways have been pushing reforms and delivering material support some of which had hardly reached targeted beneficiaries, Williams concluded by calling on all to jettison attitudes and practices that have reduced women and children especially the girl child as means to an end.