With support from Plan International, Sierra Leone, the National Commission for Children (NCC) yesterday launched its 2016-2018 strategic plan at the Hill Valley Conference room, along Signal Hill road in Freetown.
Before the formal launch of the NCC three year working document, the Country Representative, Plan International, Casely Coleman was excited to be part of a process to protect children’s rights and equality for girls.
He explained that Plan International provides access to education for girls, supporting girls rights advocacy and leadership programs, with special focus on ending child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, teenage pregnancy and sexual violence, which is now high in schools and tertiary educational institutions.
Mr Coleman added that it is important to build the right partnerships and collaborate with Government institutions, Non-Government Organisations, as well as networking with other like-minded CSO’s and to advance child and youth participation to advocate and monitor the fulfilment of their rights which we believe is the core of the Commission’s work.
The Plan Country Representative commended staff of the National Commission for Children (NCC) for being proactive to come up with a three year plan which will guide its intervention in contributing to the realization of children’s rights in the Country, to create a change in practice and policy.
As he formally launched the NCC strategic plan, the Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Social Services, Honourable Hassan Sesay stated that the three year plan is a step in the right direction, emphasising that there is a need for adults to redouble their efforts to improve on child rights and protection.
He stressed that children in rural communities are more vulnerable and exposed to sexual and domestic violence, and it starts from the home, to the school and the various communities where they reside.
Hon. Sesay was passionate as he called for collective efforts from parents and guardians to show more commitment to invest in addressing the needs of children.
The Parliamentarian emphasised that, there is no other time than now to invest our future and to improve our parent and child relationship in order to know what is going on in their lives as they grow.
He assured the gathering and pledged parliament’s commitment to ensure that laws to protect children’s rights are being implemented and violators of children’s rights, even if it’s a member of the family of the survivor, face the law with long term sentence, without compromise.
In a power point presentation, NCC’s Commissioner, Olayinka Laggah explained about the three year strategic plan which was developed through collective efforts from within the commission and outside of the commission.
She gave the structure and background of the commission, which was established by an Act of Parliament, with the Ministry of Social Welfare as the parent body.
Madam Laggah spoke of the functions of the NCC, both at local and International level, adding that the commission interface with MDA’s as well as collaborate with local and International Non-Governmental Organisations.
She dilated on the purpose of developing the strategic plan, including the various processes involved.
A Child Broadcaster, Eugenia Rogers left the gathering spell bound when she took the podium to deliver a statement on behalf of her peers, noting that when a child talks to a child, they both understand each other’s problems and are able to find solutions to make things better.
She said the strategic plan is well in place to serve as a guide to the NCC to man the affairs of children in Sierra Leone.
Young Eugenia spoke of the numerous challenges children especially girls have to cope with, but the issue of sexual and domestic violence both in the home and school must be addressed urgently.
She added that children in the Country need more access to quality education, citing that most schools lack qualified teachers, teaching and learning materials as well as adequate furniture for the overcrowded classrooms.
As Eugenia Rogers concluded she changed her tone of delivery and stressed that “Every child should be in school and well catered for, and not to be sent off for early marriage or on the streets as hawkers, child labourers and child prostitutes, in order to put food on the table for the family”.
By Ade Campbell, Awoko
Friday July 22, 2016