On June 16th, the world annually celebrates International Day for the African Child. This momentous day serves as a reminder of the unique challenges faced by children across the African continent and an opportunity to recognize their resilience, celebrate their achievements, and advocate for their rights. IITA, in unification with this occasion, carries out remarkable works in empowering Africa’s children and securing a brighter future for the continent.
The International Day for the African Child was established in 1991 by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to honor the memories of brave students who lost their lives during the Soweto Uprising in 1976. This uprising, sparked by students protesting against a flawed education system, symbolizes the determination and resilience of African children in their pursuit of a better future.
With the theme of this year’s occasion, “The Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment,” children across Africa are facing numerous challenges, including poverty, lack of access to quality education, inadequate healthcare, and food insecurity; it is subsequently crucial to recognize that African children possess immense talent, creativity, and a drive to overcome these obstacles and contribute to their communities.
As a leading research institution that addresses food security, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability in Africa, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is crucial in empowering African children and securing their future. Through its various programs and initiatives, IITA actively promotes sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and entrepreneurship, providing children opportunities for growth and self-sufficiency.
Education is a fundamental right of every child, and IITA recognizes its importance in unlocking Africa’s potential. Through the Start Them Early Program (STEP), the institute supports educational programs that equip children with knowledge and skills in agriculture, technology, and entrepreneurship. By partnering with local schools and communities, IITA fosters a love for learning, encourages critical thinking, and empowers children to become future leaders, innovators, and change-makers.
IITA acknowledges the vital role of nutrition in ensuring children’s health, well-being, and cognitive development. Through its research and community outreach initiatives, the institute promotes sustainable agricultural practices, improves crop yields, and enhances food security, combating malnutrition and ultimately improving the well-being of African children.
On this International Day for the African Child, we celebrate Africa’s children’s immense potential, resilience, and creativity. As we also advocate for the rights and well-being of the African Children.
Let us strive to provide African children with the necessary tools, opportunities, and support to build a brighter, more prosperous Africa for future generations.
Contributed by Jamila Mohamed-Audu