The Day of the African Child is commemorated on the 16th June in memory of the Children in Soweto, South Africa who were massacred by the then apartheid regime for their uprising on the poor quality of education they were receiving. The Katakwi event, just like the National Commemorations, were pushed forward to 27th June. This year’s commemorations were held under the theme “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030”.
The district choice of the venue for the event was by no means arbitrary. It was decided at the backdrop of a recent monstrous abuse of a child at that school, making it a suspected scene of crime. It is alleged that the Head Teacher of the school defiled a Primary Seven (P7) girl pupil in his office and the suspect is still at large having been released under devious circumstances. This is definitely not an isolated case as it is reported that Katakwi has the highest number of defilement cases registered by police in the region. Addressing herself to this heinous act, Guest of Honor, Ms. Rose Itoke, 11 year old Primary Six (P6) pupil of Usuk Girls Primary School, in a somber mood, called on all leaders to do much more to protect the rights of children. “Leaders and parents, you need and must do all it takes to safeguard us against such abuse”.
In the course of her speech, the Guest of Honor invited a representative from Civil Society, a parent, teacher, politician and civic leader to explain matters related to continued violation of children’s rights. The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Katakwi District, Mr. Jimmy Walamoi was asked in a hard-hitting tone to explain why despite the elaborate provisions in our laws and policies on the protection of rights of children, many abuses continue to happen with impunity. The CAO explained that law enforcement has not been sufficient but that is being addressed. He added that his office has purposed to follow up such cases to their logical conclusion and more so go out to educate the community and families on vices committed against innocent children. The Guest of honor then asked leaders to pursue these recommendations; enforce rule of law, involve children in decision making, sufficiently budget for children, promote behavioral chance and support advocacy days for promoting conversations and resolutions on the rights of children. She concluded that we all need to speak out and expose those who violate the rights of children.
The Magoro Primary School event involved a number of activities which included; a procession around the town, speeches, music dance and drama presentations, reciting poems, quizzes and tree planning among related pre-event activities conducted in schools and the community. TASO drama group, the only adult group on the day, presented a skit on protecting the rights of children that received a deafening applause from the audience. Prizes were given out to the presenting school music and drama groups. The other activity of the day was dissemination of thematic Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials by CSOs. TASO gave away a number of materials that included thematic polos, caps and bandanas to quiz winners and other purposefully selected participants.
Addressing the audience, the District Chairperson, Mr. Elakas Walter Okiring, thanked implementing partners working in the District for the great work in protecting children and development of society in general. He singled out and welcomed TASO for its new role as the lead implementing partner for the comprehensive HIV and AIDS programming in the district. The chairperson went on to urge leaders at all levels to stand out to enforce agreed principles to strengthen society and guarantee a good future for our children.
The chairperson reported the following statistics for the year ended that show a less favorable situation in the protection of the rights of the children;
- 89 defilement cases reported to police besides several other that go unreported or detected.
- 1696 child neglect cases
- 248 child early marriages cases
- 168 Child to child sex cases
- 1734 school dropout cases
- 108 cases of conflict of other laws
On the reported defilement case at the host school, the chairperson decried the abominable act and directed the CAO to interdict the alleged defiler head teacher as the case is allowed to take its normal course. Other speakers of the day included District Community Development Officer, Ms. Ikareut Betty, District Counselors and CAO Katakwi. All the speakers denounced any form of abuse of children and urged all to make a personal contribution to rid society of vices committed against children. Tree planning activity led by the Guest of Honor and the District Chairperson concluded the commemorations as children were served refreshments provided by the CSOs.