On my way to Nemakunku yesterday morning, I boarded a van at Latrikunda and to my amazement, I found an apprentice who couldn’t be more than seven or eight years old. The sight of that kid asking passengers for fares and occasionally using obscene language just broke my heart. I wondered what type of parents will leave kids that young to be apprentices in this day and age.
As a teacher, seeing a school aged child in the streets or doing something other than going to school just gets to me. This is just one of the many ways that our people use to prevent kids from going to school. Sometimes, one meets them (kids) selling water, groundnuts or some other stuff like that. These kids should be in school and not selling something in the streets. Most of the time, it is their own parents who put them up to these jobs.
Mr President, now that we are talking about reviewing our constitution, I think particular attention should be given to ways and means of protecting our children. No nation can succeed without children. It is today’s children who will be the leaders of this country tomorrow. How will they lead the country when the time comes and all they have been doing is learning to drive, sell water or groundnuts?
Firstly, I am of the opinion that there should be a ministry for children. This will improve the work already being done by the Department of Social Welfare. As it is, they cannot handle the number of street children. The number is so huge, and increasing due to the deepening poverty and rising cost of living. Some parents are forced into using their little kids to supplement their income. If we are serious about the future of this country, we must address the issue of children immediately.
There should be laws which will compel every parent to send his or her child to school, at least up to a certain level. If the law already exists, then it should be vigorously implemented. The police and ordinary citizens should question every child seen loitering around without going to school. If it is established that it is the parents who did not send such a child to school, or for some reason are negligent of his/her schooling, they should face the music. In this way, the issue of street children can be minimized if not totally eradicated.
Let’s prepare our future!
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned citizen