This year’s Easter School for basic and Senior High School (SHS) students across the country, has officially opened at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region.
The annual event provided a dynamic forum for children to actively participate in open discussion about critical issues affecting their welfare and enjoyment of their rights.
The three-day programme was organized by the Child’s Rights International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with sponsorship from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the theme: “Realising Children’s Rights in the Juvenile Justice System; Seeking Justice for Children, Preventing the Adult Crime of Tomorrow”.
Hajia Boya Gariba, Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affair, who opened the event, said the key to addressing challenges of juvenile justice system was to invest in education to empower children with the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities.
She said community support was significant especially since “it takes a village to raise a child” and more importantly development of positive peer education programmes.
“…With the social dynamics of our time we are saddled with a younger generation that sometimes fall victim to minimal supervision, indiscipline and exposure to all kinds of influences and hazards “.
Hajia Gariba appealed to civil society organizations to support government to initiate holistic programmes for the development of children and the youth.
She advised parents to be responsible for their children and monitor their development.
Hajia Gariba asked children to enjoy their rights responsibly by obeying rules and regulations, avoid peer pressure and focus on their development.
She advised children: “you must acquire the habit of volunteering your service to your communities and take advantage of any situation to build your capacity.”
Mr Bright Appiah, Executive Director of the NGO, said since its inception, the programme has assisted children from diverse backgrounds to learn about their rights and to discuss issues affecting them.
He said about 300 participants were taking part in this year’s event, which sough to promote children’s unique contribution as citizens of the world and particularly Ghana.
Mr Appiah noted that child protection was paramount to the development of every country, especially developing nations.
Madam Sheema Gupta, Chief Child Protection Officer, UNICEF, advocated the formulation of a national justice policy to address juvenile justice system.
She said the United Nations’ approach to justice for children guiding principles ensured that the best interest of the child was given primary consideration.
Madam Gupta said the approach also guaranteed fair and equal treatment of children, their protection from all kinds of discrimination, abuse, exploitation and violence and to ensure that they were treated with dignity and compassion.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Angwubutoge Awuni, Commander of National Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service, appealed to the participants to refrain from violating the law, and advised them not to be overrun by negative peer influence and discuss their problems with their parents for assistance.
He called on individuals and organisations to provide facilities for the catering of children who have violated the law.
Master Morgan Abraham, participant from Odomaseman SHS, told GNA that the event would help appreciate child rights better to enable him to educate his peers on the subject.