Community Development Education

Let’s uphold children’s right to education: UN’s Edward Kallon

Dr. Kallon addresses the gathering while VP Chiwenga and other dignitaries look on
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At the momentous occasion of World Children’s Day, Mr. Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe urged stakeholders to advocate for the rights of children, with a particular emphasis on the right to education.

He was speaking on World Children’s Day on Thursday 23 November 2023 in Beitbridge at an event graced by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and other dignitaries from the government, development community, civil society organisations, and traditional leaders, among others.

“This year’s celebration of World Children’s Day in Zimbabwe focuses on the right to education, aligning with the African Union Year of Education in 2024.

“The United Nations recognizes education as a fundamental human right, and it is our firm belief that every child deserves access to quality education without discrimination. It is imperative that children, irrespective of their social or economic backgrounds, have the opportunity to learn, develop, and reach their full potential,” Mr. Kallon said.

While Zimbabwe has made considerable progress in ensuring access to quality education throughout the country, challenges persist. Some vulnerable groups of children are excluded from school, and there is a concerning number of dropouts, especially as children transition from primary to secondary school. Girls, particularly affected by child marriage and early pregnancies, remain at risk.

“Investing in education and prioritizing its importance is key to protecting and empowering children and breaking the cycle of poverty. Through collective action and collaboration between the government, civil society organizations, and individuals, we can ensure that every child enjoys their right to education.

“The United Nations family, alongside our technical agencies UNESCO and UNICEF, is here to support the Government of Zimbabwe in addressing the root causes of children not being in school,” Mr. Kallon said.

As the right to education is fundamental for every child and serves as the foundation for building an equal and prosperous nation, the UN Senior Official said it is essential that we continue working together to ensure every child in Zimbabwe has access to education.

“Let us pay particular attention to the most vulnerable children, including those from poor households, children with disabilities, and children on the move. On this day dedicated to education, as we gather in a school, I also want to congratulate the children – our pride and future leaders – for the enthusiasm and effort you put into your studies. I encourage you to continue your educational journey with determination.”

Mr. Kallon said World Children’s Day holds immense significance as it commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. These milestones have established a solid foundation for the protection and well-being of children across the globe.

On this day, the United Nations recognizes the invaluable role of various stakeholders, including parents, caregivers, teachers, healthcare professionals, government leaders, activists, religious and community elders, the private sector, the media, and most importantly, the children themselves.

Various stakeholders play a crucial role in safeguarding the welfare of children in the communities.

Mr. Kallon applauded the Government of Zimbabwe for its unwavering commitment to the advancement and development of children. In Beitbridge, he thanked the Guest of Honor, Honorable Retired General Dr. C.G.N. Chiwenga, Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, for championing children’s rights and presiding over this significant day.

He also acknowledged Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, the UNICEF Zimbabwe Representative, and his team for their passion and conviction in advocating for children’s rights in Zimbabwe.

The UN Resident Coordinator encouraged the children of Zimbabwe to continue to actively participate in addressing critical issues such as climate change, human rights, peace, and voluntary services since such contributions are instrumental in building thriving communities and a prosperous country.

World Children’s Day serves as an inspirational platform to advocate for, promote, and celebrate the rights of children. It offers an opportunity for meaningful dialogue and collective action towards creating a brighter future for our children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child enshrines the rights of every child to health, education, protection, and participation. It is built on four principles—the best interest of the child, non-discrimination, the right to survival and development, and the right to express their opinions.

By ratifying the Convention, countries, including Zimbabwe, pledge to take all necessary measures to uphold the rights of every child.

The United Nations family in Zimbabwe recognizes the efforts and progress made by the Government of Zimbabwe in embodying the rights of children through legal instruments and initiatives. The Constitution of Zimbabwe provides a strong reference to the rights of the child and serves as a guiding document for the government’s work in promoting these rights.

While all the rights mentioned in the Convention are equally crucial and interconnected, the right to participation and expression of children takes center stage during World Children’s Day each year.

World Children’s Day celebrations provide a platform for children to voice their opinions on issues that directly affect them. It is vital that adults and decision-makers take these opinions seriously and act accordingly.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende