Mrs Lariba Zuweira Abudu, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection designate, has called on parents to play their parts in ensuring that all children of school going age attend school.
Her advice comes on the back of recent revelation by the Ghana Statistical Service in the 2021 Population and Housing Census report, indicating that over 1.2 million children of school going age are not attending school.
The data also indicated that out of that number, almost one million of them have never attended school.
Speaking in an interview with the media on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 2022 World Children’s Day in Accra, the Minister designate said the government was doing all it could to make education accessible to all.
She stated that government’s policies such as the free basic and secondary education, free school meals, as well as the free uniforms and books were all geared towards ensuring that all children in the country attended school.
She said it was, therefore, imperative parents and guardians played their parts by ensuring that children of school going age actually attended school.
She asked: “As a parent, do you normally make sure that your child is in school, do you normally follow up to ensure that your child is in school.
“Government has done its bit by providing free education, free school meals and free school uniforms, books and everything, Government is providing all of them so why are they not in school?”
World Children’s Day is marked annually on November 20 to promote International togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
The global theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Inclusive for Every Child,” while the local theme is: “ Creating a Safe and Protective Environment for Children— Inclusive for Every Child”.
Mrs Abudu said recent reports indicated that, 94 per cent of children in Ghana aged one to fourteen experienced physical punishment and/or psychological aggressions by caregivers, one in five girls were married before age 18 while over 38 per cent of girls aged 15-19 experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.
“Besides, Cyber Tip Line reports related to child sexual abuse materials indicate that materials being accessed, shared and produced online from Ghana have been growing exponentially, from 750 in 2016, to 19,733 in 2021,” she added.
Mrs Abudu said, over the years, the Ministry had initiated numerous programmes to protect children from all forms of abuses.
One of such initiatives is the Ghanaians Against Child Abuse (GACA), launched in 2017.
Mrs Abudu said since its inception, the GACA initiative had established a well-structured and coordinated child protection approach that promoted the wellbeing of children.
She added that it had also implemented programmes and activities to effectively protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and negotiation.
Mrs Abudu advised children to stay away from internet fraud, sports betting and social vices and focus on their studies for the betterment of their future.
She also called on Ghanaians to renew their commitment towards the protection of children by ensuring that all rights due them were fully implemented.
Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, Acting Director, Department of Children, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, commended traditional and religious leaders for playing active role in ending abuse against children in the country.
Mr Fiachra McAsey, Acting Country Representative, UNICEF, reaffirmed the Organisation’s commitment to continue to work with both national and international partners to strengthen child protection systems.
“We will continue to lend support to cultivate an enabling environment for all children through stronger laws, policies, and efficient budgets, through stronger policy implementation, and service delivery on the ground and better access, better quality, inclusiveness and non-discrimination for all children, women and families,” he emphasised.