Two days before the Day of the African Child, a team of children age 12-16 work on a communiqué around the theme: “PLANNING AND BUDGETING FOR CHILDREN, OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY”. The Government of Ghana, Ministry for Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) and UNICEF were those responsible for making it happen; A CHILDREN’S PRESS CONFERENCE in commemoration of the African Union Day of the Child, held at the conference hall of the Ministry of Information.
Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwah (Minister for Information) chaired the function; the Deputy Minister for Women and Children was there to see ‘her Children’ in action. Frank, a member of the team that worked on the communiqué read it, impressive! They (Children in Ghana), felt it was vital for children to be part of Planning and Budgeting for the Nation. Attention of Government was drawn to Gender budgeting, budgeting for street children, budgeting for children with disability, public schools and those in remand homes, again, they pleaded that the Media put little time for politics and highlight issues of children more, not the other way round. They commended Government for their effort so far to make Ghana a better place for children and asked for more, “Not because we are selfish or ungrateful, much needs to be done”. They insisted children are put first when parents or guardians budget for the home, communities could do same by making sure children have schools with proper sanitary facilities for both sexes esp. for girls, libraries, playgrounds etc. that will aid their proper development. Other children at the forum insisted that the School Feeding Programme (SFP) be extended to all public schools; children be consulted when budgets are being planned or formulated. Hon. Ablakwah responded by affirming their commitment to Ghana’s children and said that Children were consulted but not directly when planning is being made. He agreed to the fact that Politics had taken over the airwaves and said little could be done about that, however, the media must, in the midst of politics and other matters attend to the needs of tomorrow’s leaders, Children. Members of the Kids ‘R’ Us told Government to take the communiqué serious, for it is vital.
The Deputy Country Rep. of UNICEF, Mr. Rene Degon expressed a good job done to the team and said “Investing in Children is the best investment we can all make, esp. a nation, for it yields higher interests”. He said Ghana invests in Agriculture, Health and Education amongst other things, yet more can be done e.g. Ghana invests Thirty Percent (30%) of its budget into Education and less than that to Health, more could be done. Again, Ghana will be the beneficiary if Children are invested in since it benefits future generations too. He congratulated Ghana for its commitment to its Children and its readiness to developing the country by investing more into children. UNICEF pledged their support to children’s issues in Ghana and Africa.
Hajia Boya Gariba, Hon. Deputy for Women and Children, said the theme for the year’s celebration is challenging and urged all to look at how they budget for children. She shared an experience with the media, one she will ever cherish; some time ago, students once visited the Parliament House to observe sittings and present a communiqué- She realized on interacting with them that, they were resourceful. She stated that all 4 Pillars of child rights (Survival, Protection, Participation and Development) entailed cost, and there is a need for a Children’s Budget (part of the National Budget, Not a separate budget) that satisfies the needs of Ghanaian Children-the Best Interest Principle. She thanked partners for their support, and said that MOWAC is responsible for formulating policies for Women and Children and allocates resources to address issues of Women and Children in the budget. She said it’s better to invest in Children at a tender age through Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD). Hajia Boya Gariba, Hon. Deputy for Women and Children’s affairs, said the MPs common fund must have much of its funds allocated to children, again, MOWAC will adopt the theme: “PLANNING AND BUDGETING FOR CHILDREN, OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY” as theirs (MOWAC) for the Year. She said community durbars, amongst other events lined up will make the celebration complete, wished all Happy AU day of the Child esp. Children in Ghana.
Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwah, the chair for the function, thanked all present for coming and advised much attention is giving to our future, Ghanaian Children.