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General News Sun, 10 Nov 2002

80% of Ghanaian children live in poverty

About 80 percent of Ghanaian children are living in abject poverty, deprivation and other vicissitudes of life that hamper their survival and development.

Mrs. Akua Debrah, Acting Brong Ahafo Regional Director of Education who stated this on Friday, said recent studies had shown that only 20 percent of them enjoy childhood privileges.

She was speaking at a day's seminar jointly organised by Centre for the Empowerment of the Vulnerable (CEV) and UNICEF Ghana in Sunyani for the executives and patrons of child right clubs in schools.

The seminar, under the theme: "The child, our asset", was aimed at empowering participants to be able to identify violations of children's rights and to identify agencies, departments and Ministries that deal with children's issues.

Lack of parental care, abandonment, high drop out rate, economic hardships and lack of employable skills have contributed greatly to teenage pregnancies, child labour and criminal activities, Mrs. Debrah said.

''It is the prime role of society to give children opportunities to develop their full potentials and take their rightful positions in society,'' Mrs Debrah said.

Mrs. Debrah expressed regret that 12 years after the ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of children and passage of various legislations by the state, much had not been done in the protection and promotion of children.

''It is a shameful reality that children remain vulnerable and are subjected to all kinds of abuses even though they have legal rights like any other Ghanaian,'' she said.

She appealed to parents to strive to create peace and tranquillity at home and to desist from negative acts that could affect their children.

She said cases of child abuse had become rampant because children's participation in planning and implementation of programmes and projects that affected them were not considered because they are seen as mere beneficiaries and not decision makers.

Mrs Debrah commended CEV for setting up child's rights in six schools in the region since children needed to know their rights and participate in decisions that affected their lives.

Mr. Michael Mensah, Executive Director of CEV, appealed to the public to accord children dignity and to guide them towards their best interests, since they are frail and helpless.

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Source: gna
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