The Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelugui has appealed to the lagislators to enact the Children’s Bill 2021 which is before the National Assembly.
Chelugui said the new law seeks to operationalize the provisions of the Constitution on Child rights and to address challenges necessitated by changes in the social, economic, political and technological environments of children.
“We have many laws and policies that govern all sectors that are critical for the promotion and protection of children. My Ministry through the National Council for Children’s Services offers the coordination and oversight of the implementation of all these rights,” he said.
He said the government will ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, as well as ensure that children court cases are handled with dignity, fairness and are timely.
The CS who was speaking during the National Commemoration of the Day of the African Child at a Nairobi hotel, said the government has allocated funds for social protection programmes to cushion children from the effects of extreme poverty and other vulnerabilities.
The programmes include cash transfer for orphans and vulnerable children, older persons, persons with severe disabilities, hunger safety net and the Presidential secondary school bursary among others.
He announced that the government has allocated Sh37.8 billion in the National Budget for the next financial year to the social protection sector, and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to support street families’ rehabilitation trust fund which addresses issues of street connected families and children in urban centres.
“The government has set aside funds to implement free primary and Day Secondary Educational and the Competency Based Curriculum to ensure that children are enrolled and retained in schools until completion at the various levels of education,” said Chelugui.
He gave an assurance that the government will continue to provide free immunization to children below age five against immunizable diseases, besides monitoring their growth and providing them with nutritional supplements.
The CS commended the Children’s Courts for operating virtually during this period of Covid-19 pandemic to ensure justice is served to all children in the country.
Chelugui said his Ministry is in the process of preparing its first five-year cycle report on the implementation of the 10 aspirations of Agenda 2040 to be submitted to the Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children.
A Child Engagement Tool on Agenda 2040 was developed and shared with Children Officers and other partners to collect children’s views on the implementation of Agenda 2040 and their opinions on how well the aspirations of Agenda 2030 have been achieved.
Speaking at the event, the Child guest Amos Kipyegon from Koiwa Secondary School in Sotik, said the children appreciate the steps the government has taken to ensure that minors access justice when their rights are violated.
He said the government should ensure that diligent justice is accorded to children who have been defiled and impregnated and offer appropriate opportunities for them to continue with their education.“We are thankful for the laws that ensure that our rights are respected. Thank you for ensuring that we go to school, get good nutritious food, go to hospital when we are sick and that most of our caregivers understand what their responsibilities are towards us,’ said Kipyegon.
He said children are grateful to the government for listening and allowing them to freely express themselves and requested that the ideas they have shared be acted upon as it will held to improve their welfare.
“On June 5, 2021, children from across the country participated in a webinar with leaders in child protection from state and non-state agencies. It was a wonderful experience and thank you Judge Matheka for leading the team for organizing the event,” he added.
“As children we are grateful that during this time of Covid-19 pandemic the National Council for Children’s Services provided us with an opportunity to ask questions, share our opinions and celebrate our wins through virtual meetings,” said the child guest.
He also urged the government to address the issues that were raised during the virtual meetings.
Some of the key issues raised by the children include access to healthcare, acquisition of birth certificates for children in border areas and refugee camps, access to education by having adequate facilities, addressing issues of street children, provision of sanitary towels, child pregnancy and child abuse.
The Day of the African Child is a remembrance of the children who were killed and injured in Soweto, South Africa in 1976 as they fought for some of the rights that children freely enjoy today.
By Bernadette Khaduli