Investing in our future on Universal Children’s Day

Nov 17, 2021

Everyone can play a part in making Universal Children’s Day relevant for their communities. Commemorated on 20 November each year, the event offers an entry point to advocate for children’s rights worldwide.

Prompted by a vision to improve children’s welfare and promote fraternity, this annual observance aims to build a living-friendly environment for all children through dialogue and focused action.

To celebrate the day, a wide range of events take place across the globe. This is seen as a fun tribute underpinned by a serious message.

The theme for International Children Day 2021 is “Investing in our future means investing in our children”. This entails educating and caring for our young ones and thereby ensuring a safe and positive future for all. 

Launched in 1954, the date marks the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, as well as the subsequent Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. These reinforce the right for children to be protected from violence and discrimination, and the right to life, health and education.

Children will steer the future of the planet but remain a vulnerable group exposed to abuse and exploitation daily. As young dependents, they rely on adults for everything – from food to shelter and education, and it is imperative that their rights be heard if they are to develop into the next generation of empowered world citizens. 

To that end, Non-Profit Organisation Ikamva Labantu runs two child-specific initiatives. Their Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme takes cognisance of the hundreds of children in Cape Town’s township communities who lack access to quality early education. Preschools here often struggle to create safe and conducive learning environments due to a lack of access to funds and support.

To assist, Ikamva Labantu’s ECD programme works with established community preschools to train principals and practitioners in best-practice techniques. It also supports them with educational resources to improve their offering. The training equips principals to better manage their preschool and become financially self-sufficient while providing quality and age-appropriate education to the youngsters in their care. 

Ikamva Labantu’s model preschool in Khayelitsha, Kwakhanya Educare, serves as a training facility where practitioners can gain practical experience and mentorship in the classroom.

The NPO also offers a Registration Helpdesk to assist preschools to access the government’s early learning subsidies after registering with the Department of Social Development (DSD). This aids principals and guides them through a complex and financially demanding process.

In a bid to keep children safe and off the streets, a community-initiated Afternoon Angels was also established by a group of 53 women. This endeavours to minimise exposure to violence, crime, gangsterism and drugs – as many children are often left to play in the streets unsupervised until their parents return home late from work.

In response to the lack of extracurricular activities and aftercare facilities at many schools, these women have opened their homes to children to provide a haven where they receive a nutritious meal, emotional support, and a space to play in the afternoons. As such, Afternoon Angels provides a warm, nurturing environment for children to feel supported, keeping them out of harm’s way on the streets.

Universal Children’s Day is a reminder to participate in the betterment of youngsters in all countries of the world. Ikamva Labantu and many other global organisations work hard to nurture and support the generations to come. Will you?