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Takoradi, March 28, GNA - Mr Bright Kweku Appiah, Executive Director of Child's Rights International, an NGO has called on society to endeavour to mainstream children's participation in national issues to nurture their senses of responsibility and nationalism. He said children would also need guidance, protection and encouragement to participate effectively on issues affecting them to become good leaders in future. Mr Appiah made the call at the national launching of this year's Easter School for Children at Takoradi on Thursday. About 230 children selected from the regions and 20 from nine African countries would participate in the four-day School which opens on April 6 at Winneba under the theme "10 years of implementing Children's Act 560, Issues and Way Forward". It is being organised in collaboration with UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). Mr Appiah said it would offer participants the opportunity to critically assess and evaluate the performance and effect of the Children's Act 560 on children since its implementation in Ghana 10 years ago.
"After 10 years as a nation that has devoted time and resources for the protection of children, it is necessary to reflect on the achievements and failures on the fight for children's rights, teaching and training". He said government had formulated programmes and policies on the implementation of Act 560 to ensure that the child was adequately protected and prepared for the future, however, children still suffered from the consequences of neglect, irresponsibility, exploitation and abuse.
Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado, said Ghana was the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Right of the Child in 1979, followed by the passage of the Children's Act 560 in 1998. He said since then Ghana had reformed her legislations to cover areas related to child maintenance, fair hearing for the child, children in conflict with the law and their social integration. Nana Nketsia called for effective action implementation and education on legislative instruments protecting children since most of them still faced neglect and irresponsibility. "Much more work need to be done to change people's attitude, perceptions and actions regarding the appropriate or suitable means to approach issues affecting children," he added. Ms Aida Haille Mariam, UNHCR Representative in Ghana, commended Children's Rights International and UNICEF for inviting refugee children to participate in the School.
This, she said, would give such children special opportunity to add their voice to the fight against xenophobia at an early age and hoped other organisations would emulate the action. Ms Mariam said the School would help educate the people on child issues and sustain awareness among parents and children about "what it means to protect, respect and promote children's rights". She said every aspect of a child's life, regardless of gender, race geographical location or economic standing was important to his future development.
Mr John Hackman, Western Regional Director of Department of Children said government had developed several policies that focused on child welfare and protection. He said resources from the HIPC Initiative had also been directed at education and training, health, provision of potable water, sanitation and other facilities that were critical for child development. 28 March 08
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