Day of the African Child: Empowering us all

Written by Carl Kojo Apeagyei (@Apeagyei_), Fundraising and Events Intern

As adults, many of us are used to making decisions which fundamentally alter our lives and the lives of those around us. Choices such as having children, taking a new job, getting married or leaving school are core in defining ‘What it means to be an adult.’

Recognising education as the key to success, we believe that one choice no one should have to make is the choice between learning and eating. Yet it remains a choice millions of disabled children across the globe will make or have had made for them, whilst they are still just that – children.

We do not believe anyone should have to sacrifice an education.
Let alone a child.

The Day of the African Child seeks to end this by promoting the rights of all African children to access full unimpeded education. Doing so by first raising awareness of the barriers to education – and the various forms these can manifest, and fostering efforts to topple them.

It creates a space for governments, international institutions, civil society organisations and local communities to come together and tackle these issues as a singular focused unit.

So June 16th, children across Africa and the world celebrate this momentous day.

The History

On the same day in 1976, an estimated 176- 700 people were killed protesting against education injustice and inequality in Soweto, South Africa. Commonly referred to as the Soweto Uprising.
Some 10,000 – 20,000 students united to demonstrate and voice their frustration, and despite the protests being wholly peaceful they were met with fierce police brutality propagated by the apartheid system.

An iconic image of that day. The death of Hector Peterson. Carried by Mbuysia Makhubo, with Hector’s sister Antoinette Sithole running beside them

These incredible students recognised education as their ticket to prosperity and sadly many lost their lives fighting for their rights to such a dream. 13 years ahead prior to the establishment of the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC, 1989.)
Refusing to let their struggle fade into the echelons of history however, we at AbleChildAfrica are running with the torch sparked by the Soweto students and spreading it to the furthest reaches of the globe – yes that also includes you and the children we work for and with.

And it so happens that this year’s theme ‘Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights’ echoes the origins of AbleChildAfrica in 1984, set up to hep children injured following the Ugandan Civil War.

And we continue further to circumvent disabled children’s impact on access to education.

Disabled children are even further disadvantaged as they are unable to access food and shelter provided. Recently our Youth Ambassador Anthony Ford-Shubrook spoke about the marginalisation of the disabled at the World Humanitarian Summit. Which you can you read about here.


Barriers to education can manifest in many different forms, but these are consistently being tackled by a growing network of dedicated organisations across the globe and within Africa.
AbleChildAfrica is one such charity which works various local organisations such as; Little Rock in Kenya, Child Support Tanzania in Tanzania and Uganda Society for Disabled Children in Uganda. And we are always willing to work with more partners!

The Trends

Enrolment in pre-primary education programs rose by almost two and half times between 1999 and 2012. AbleChildAfrica’s partner school Little Rock is only officially recognised inclusive education centre in Kibera, Kenya. Based in East Africa’s largest slum, it supports over 900 children and their families.

Africa’s youth population is also better educated than previous generations. Based on current trends;

  • African countries have allocated the largest share of government expenditure to education at 18.4%
  • Between 2000 and 2010, higher education enrolment more than doubled, increasing from 2.3 million to 5.2 million
  • 59 percent of 20-24 year olds will have a secondary education in 2030, compared to 42 percent today.

Commendably Sub-Saharan Africa has demonstrated the greatest improvement in primary education enrolments compared to other regions of the world. This growth has not happened by coincidence, but by strong cross cultural partnerships such as those between AbleChildAfrica and LittleRock, and other champions with a desire to change the world for others.

We at AbleChildAfrica are part of this huge movement. And we want you to join us in being so too.

What you can do to mark the dayDAC Competition

If you are a young person it could be no easier today, simply enter our Day of the African Child  Creative Competition by Sunday 19th June, and let us know what education means to you – creatively!
We believe young people should play an active role in discussing their future, and this is a major step towards that.
More information can be found here.

Alternatively please consider giving to the work of AbleChildAfrica and help us ensure. Simply donate today by clicking this link.

We would also be happy to hear from you if you would like to get involved through your school, community or workplace.

Although each year focuses on a particular barrier to education, the central theme of the Day of the African Child is empowerment – Allowing kids to be kids and allowing them to play active roles in securing their future.


Otieno_"I like the maize. I feel good about it"

Photo credit: Madison Rahhal, Photographers Without Borders

Join in the conversation on twitter and let us know what education means to you
@AblechildAfrica #DayoftheAfricanChild

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