By Chrispin Inambao RUNDU Hundreds of school children last Friday congregated at the Dr Romanus Kampungu Sports Ground at Rundu, where they listened to speeches marking the Day of the African Child which commemorates the children brutally killed in the Soweto riots. June 16 is commemorated every year in memory of the brave children of Soweto who stood up for their rights in 1976, protesting against the minority apartheid regime at the time and particularly the inferior Bantu education for blacks. At the time they were shot, the students resented the poor quality of education and they objected to the fact that Afrikaans was to be the medium of instruction imposed on them. Speaking at the event, Councillor Nimrod Muremi said the challenges of the African child of yesterday-year deserves to be glorified with dignity and honour, ” … for the glorious example they have given to the present generations to fight for what is right.” “On the other hand, (on the) social front, the picture is worrying. For example, HIV/Aids continues to spread despite efforts made by health ministries to combat this dreadful disease,” said the regional councillor. He noted that the government’s policy of equitable access to schooling is geared to ensure first and foremost that all forms of discrimination in society are removed and that human resources development gets priority, thereby improving education. This, he said, was and is being considered as a solid investment for the country’s future. “The dream that we had since the first day of independence was to see our schools producing scientifically sound, mentally, physically and socially health graduates who will be future leaders who can contribute to the bright future of this country”, he stated. “It is my firm belief that children can act as agents of change in their homes and amongst their families,” he told several hundreds of school children gathered at the sports ground. Children need their parent’s care and honest love while at the same time being in need of an environment that is free from violence, abuse, war, hunger, disease and ignorance. Swapo Party Youth League Regional Secretary, Gabriel Kanyanga, said it is a well -known fact that Africa is a rich continent and that its raw materials continue to generate wealth “for those who sat at the repressive table of colonialism and slavery.” “It is for this reason that we must continue to desist and reject those who place European interests in Africa above the fundamental rights of the African people,” said Kanyanga. “It is and must be condemned that in the midst of all this wealth, the African children should be subjected to devastating, poverty, rampant disease and inadequate education and the unending child soldiers. We must therefore detest those who make immoral profits from manufacturing the weapons of war … ” said the SPYL leader. He was also of the view that the commemoration of this event should not be confined to urban centres but rather include rural areas where the majority of children face constant and deliberate economic deprivation and isolation. Children were also advised to pay attention to their schoolwork as this was important for their future well-being. In the message read on the behalf of the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Marlene Mungunda, it was said many things had happened since the Soweto uprising. Most notable among the achievements of the uprising are improvements in health, education and most importantly in human rights. The minister said two important documents, namely the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990), were ratified by the majority of states in African. But in spite of these developments children remain vulnerable and suffer from deprivations all over the world as a consequence of war, poverty and illness. Children’s rights are violated through various acts, such as psychological and physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug addiction, child labour and hunger,” she said. Last Friday’s event was attended by children from the Bridges of Hope Kindergarten who entertained the crowd with dance and song, Nimrod Muremi Kindergarten, Sauyemwa Combined School, Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary and those from Ndama Senior Primary School who enthralled the audience with a cultural performance.
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