A 12-year old Justice Barack Edward from Green Hill Primary school challenges development practitioners not to leave children behind as they roll out SDGs campaign arguing that sustainable development can only be achieved if children are considered since they are the ultimate consumers of the services. Edward condemned the injustice against children like child negligence, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, denial of education which all violate the SDGs 3, 4, 5, 16 among others. He also reminded parents to stop thinking for their children on what is best for them without consulting them. “One of the challenges children face is that our parents want us to be what they want us to be not what we want to be. Some children have their own dreams which parents need to appreciate and support. If you are planning for children, they should be part of the planning because they are the future” he said. Edward also expressed concern that the political manifestos in the recent 2021 elections did not carry the children’s voices, which paints a bad image for the future of the children in the country and thus may hamper the achievement of SDGs in our country.
Edward made these comments during the Children’s symposium organized by World Vision on 20th April 2021 at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala that was held under the theme “The place of children in SDGs implementation and monitoring: Leaving no one behind during and post COVID 19”.
The event that brought together Government officials, UN Diplomats, and other development partners, CSOs, academia, and media aimed to create a platform for children to share their experiences and impact of COVID19 including its implications on the realization of SDGs; and mobilize CSOs and other stakeholders to position children at the center of SDG monitoring and accountability at all levels.
The Guest of Honor Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi -Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs noted that for a country to lead its way through, it must invest heavily in the children’s programmes. She said “There is a need for direct investment in children affairs. As parents, teachers, government leaders, CSOs, we need to be intentional and deliberate in our investment and work for children if we are to overcome the effects of Covid-19”. She called upon all stakeholders to support the government in implementation child protection policies “It’s true we have very good policies in Uganda, we are actually number one in Africa but the problem has remained with implementation and enforcement” The minister also decried the delayed release of funding by Ministry of Finance which is meant to support interventions for vulnerable children like street children but committed to engaging the ministry on this matter.
Speaking during the panel discussion, the Commissioner for Youths and Children Affairs under the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development Mr. Mondo Kyateka said “We need to remember that 57% of the population in Uganda is below the age of 18. This means that every planning and decisions must be done considering these statistics”. Mr. Kyateka emphasized the need to put children at the frontline of planning for their own future because they have a right to participate in shaping their own future and therefore they are meant to be heard and taken seriously because they are stakeholders in this nation too.
Indeed, its very true recovering and building back from COVID-19 will require deliberate investments in children and placing children at the Centre of COVID recovery plans.