The national identification and the property addressing systems will be used to help remove child beggars from the streets, the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection has announced.
Addressing a news conference as a prelude to the commemoration of the 2017 Day of the African Child in Accra yesterday, a Deputy Minister of Gender, Ms Gifty Twum Ampofo, explained that all efforts by the ministry to reconcile children beggars to their families had failed because the children often gave wrong addresses and identities of themselves to avoid being taken from the streets.
She was optimistic that after the completion of the national identification system and the property addressing system, it would be easier to reconcile such children to their families, while pragmatic measures would be put in place to deal with parents whose children would be found on the streets.
The national identification project is expected to be completed within the first year of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, in fulfilment of a manifesto pledge to complete the registration of all residents in Ghana, thereby establishing an integrated data warehouse of databases from key public institutions,
As part of the process of registration, the biometric data of children world be taken and synchronised with those of their parents for easy identification.
Day of the African Child
Celebrated every June 16, the Day of the African Child was instituted by the defunct Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union (AU)) to raise more awareness of child protection, empowerment and the need to give African children equity in the provision of basic human rights.
The 2017 regional celebration will be on the theme: “The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development for children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity”.
The day has been a platform to advance national and regional discussions on how to deal with the challenges facing African children and advance their opportunities for realising their full potential and promoting their rights.
The day was instituted in 1991 in honour of the victims of the Soweto Uprising in South Africa in 1976 when more than 10,000 black schoolchildren marching in protest against the poor quality of their education were fired at, resulting in the killing of more than 100 of them. More than a thousand others were injured.
Ms Ampofo said Ghana had strengthened its child protection arena with the formulation of two overarching policies, namely, the Child and Family Welfare and the Justice for Children.
“The guiding principles of these policies are inclusivity, participation, equity and good governance which are in agreement with the SDGs,” she said.
For his part, the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Kwesi Armo-Himbson, said the government would introduce complementary social protection services such as free school uniforms and free healthcare services for beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme to ensure that parents had no excuse to leave their children on the streets.
In his welcome address, the Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said it was commendable that the provision of quality child welfare had been pursued by successive governments in a developmental manner, devoid of politics.
He expressed the wish that national discourse on development issues would be made along similar lines, devoid of politics, to accelerate national development.
He underscored the need to pursue and prioritise the well-being of children in the broader national agenda, as children constituted the future of the country.
“The state of our children will give us a fair picture of the country’s development prospects,” he said.
In a remark, a child protection officer at UNICEF underscored the need for children to be empowered and protected from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation as a prerequisite for the attainment of the SDGs.
“Although there is so much enthusiasm for Agenda 2030 (SDGs) in Africa, the test will be in our ability to drive actions that result in better lives for all people and secure the sustainability of these actions,” she said.
In Ghana, the law defines a child as a person between 0 and 17 years. This group of people, who are classified as part of the vulnerable population in the country, is faced with challenges such as child labour, child marriage, child beggars, abuse, molestation and child trafficking.
Most of these children born to parents with poor economic status are deprived of quality health care, education, among some basic human rights.
Successive governments have shown their commitment to ensure the well-being of all children, regardless of their parents economic status or geographical location.
This commitment translated into the institution of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, now Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, to help prioritise the needs and challenges of children.
The national commitment has also translated into the formulation of a number of social intervention policies, such as the school feeding programme, justice for children, child and family welfare and the LEAP programme.
SOURCE: GRAPHIC ONLINE