Ahead Of ‘Day Of The African Child’, Gongloe Says Statistics On Liberian Children Are Pathetically Grim

The political leader of the opposition Liberia People’s Party (LPP), Cllr, Tiawan Saye Gongloe in his prepared statement for the celebration of this year’s Day of t he African Child scheduled for June 16, 2023 said the prevailing statistics on Liberian Children are pathetically grim.

Below is the statement of the LPP political leader:

Fellow Liberians, this Thursday, June 16th, Liberia will be joining 53 other African countries in commemorating the Day of the African Child (DAC). As adopted by Heads of State of the Organization of African Unity, now African Union in Abuja, Nigeria in 1990, June 16th was not only set aside by our Continental Leaders to honor and salute the memories of heroic African children, who were brutally massacred by Apartheid South African police during the Soweto Uprising in 1976, but to also remind African leaders and other policy makers about the imperatives for mainstreaming national policies that are pivotal to the healthy growth and development of the African Child.

As Liberia joins the rest of the Continent in celebrating this auspicious day in honor of the African Child, I feel obliged to candidly inform you all that the prevailing statistics on Liberian Children are pathetically grim. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Liberia has the world’s highest percentage of out of school children. UNICEF further laments that 15 to 20 percent of Liberian children between the ages of 6 and 14 are out of school. Moreover, a whopping 46 percent of Liberian children don’t even complete primary school.

Additionally, about 25 percent of Liberian children between the ages of five and seventeen are also engaged in child labor. For those of us who live and work in Liberia, we witness the severe impacts of the prevailing economic hardships on our children on a daily basis. We see school age children who should be in classrooms selling in the markets rather than going to school; many children are now the “bread winners” for their families, helping to minimize the economic difficulties on their parents and guardians.

Within the healthcare delivery sector, more and more Liberian children continue to encounter multiple challenges, such as high infant mortality and maternal mortality rates. In fact, Liberia’s infant mortality rate is among the five highest in the world, with 15 percent of children dying before their very first birthday.

Fellow Liberians, like any other children on the face of this planet, Liberian children deserve a better and a brighter future. Our children deserve an environment that will enable them to optimize their potential. In other to ensure a brighter future for our children and posterity, we must prudently carve out forward-looking policies aimed at engendering healthy living condition, affordable, accessible educational opportunities and the general wellbeing of every child in this country.

Thirty-three years after our heads of state declared the Day of the African Child, how are we faring as a continent? Are our policies holistically focused on creating a brighter future for our children?

To begin with, the debts that our national leaders acquire today are obviously the future burden of today’s children, because when those debts shall have matured for repayment 20 to 30 years from now, some of the children today and even those  yet unborn will be the national leaders, who will inherit such debts. And so, when today’s national leaders secure loans, when they receive grants from sympathetic countries for socio-economic development purposes, in order to improve the living condition of our children and callously convert those resources—whether loans or grants—into their personal use, they are stealing, not only from us, but also stealing the future of our children.

And so, fellow Liberians, as we all celebrate the Day of the African Child this Thursday, June 16th, let us search our souls ask ourselves these hard questions: Are our children better off today than they were five years ago? Do our children have better healthcare facilities, better educational facilities than they had five years ago?

I pose these questions because every society is expected to be dynamic, not stationary. Every society is expected to move forward, not backward. Unfortunately, in our pathetic case in Liberia, pervasive corruption is tremendously impeding the forward movement of the Liberian People.

Fellow Liberians, amid the prevailing corruption and resultant hardship in this country, all is not lost, because as sacredly enshrined in Article One of our Constitution, we all have an inherent right to peacefully change our national leaders via the ballot box for the betterment of our lives and our children’s lives. As we approach the October 10, 2023 Presidential Elections, let us all remember that our vote is our voice; that our vote is our power, because it’s our birth right.

I therefore humbly renew my clarion call to you all, to join us at the Liberian People’s Party and the Gongloe Global Movement, so that together, we can usher in a transformative Good Governance paradigm for a Better Liberia in 2024. For me personally, every day is, and should be a day of the African child and all other children around the world. When I’m elected President in the 2023 elections, I solemnly promise every Liberian and foreign resident within our territorial confines that uplifting the children and maximizing opportunities for them will form the bedrock of our national policies. Every day, we must ensure that our children immensely benefit from the decisions we make and the policies we pursue.

May the God of our Mothers and Fathers bless the work of our hands and save our Republic.

A BETTER LIBERIA IS POSSIBLE.

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