The Increasing Case Of Street Children
| Updated Feb 17, 2017 at 3:00pm
NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE INCREASING CASE OF STREET CHILDREN
For many years, our beloved country has been grappling with the issue of street children. Currently about sixty-one thousand four hundred and ninety-two children are on the streets of Accra struggling to make ends meet. This is in fragrant violation of the children's act which states that under no circumstance should a person below the age of fifteen be allowed to work or fend for him or herself. Therefore, the increasing phenomenon of streetism is not only worrying but also demeaning, and a dent on our national image. This is a demonstration of the failure of our social infrastructure. This is a country, where we pride ourselves of having a vibrant and strong family ties. It leaves many to wonder what has happened and how we got here, that this significant proportion of our youths can no longer find solace and respite in the comfort of their homes, that is even if they have homes, that the only option available to them is to go out into the streets to engage in menial jobs as well as begging in order to make ends meet.
Ghana is touted as having achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty, but the increasing numbers of street children and head porters also known as Kayayei make some to doubt the statistics. On what basis was that conclusion arrived that we have halved poverty and hunger? The question is even more relevant and critical especially in a situation where we lack data on almost every sphere of our national life. This makes mockery of government's programmes and policies aimed at addressing some of these social and economic imbalances. It is therefore not surprising that most of these social interventions have not had the expected impact on the targeted beneficiaries. For example, a programme like the training and resettlement of the Kayayei has only resulted in bringing more girls onto the streets. We need to diagnose and identify the causative viruses of this social canker instead of attempting to cure the symptoms. Whiles there is no data to back the claims, it may be true that quiet a substantial proportion of these street children were produced out of wedlock, some may also be sent out into the streets deliberately by their parents or guardians as result of harsh economic conditions prevailing in the home.
Indeed, this social menace has been with us for ages and it is only God who knows, how long it will continue to be with us. But certainly, the solution does not lie in adhoc and knee jerk policies and programmes. There is the need for a thorough and well thought through agenda. There is the need for a national orientation and re-awakening on some of these things. The livelihood empowerment against poverty programme is a bold attempt at tackling the harsh financial position of the most vulnerable households in the country. But it is important for government to consider increasing the number of beneficiary households as well as the quantum of money expended on each households. Other programmes such as the free meals for school children, free sandals, school uniforms, exercise books and text books should also be expanded. It is also welcome news that government has commenced the processes to make secondary education progressively free, needless to add that basic education is already free. What we need to do at this point is to work towards enforcing the constitutional provision that makes basic education compulsory. The department of social welfare must collaborate with the police and the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to ensure that they rid the streets of children. It is not only a shame but also an eye soreto have children on the streets shining shoes and selling all sorts of things in traffic. The children’s act of 1998, leaves children under the protection of their parents and family to live in a peaceful and caring environment. We need to let the laws work effectively. It is high time we began prosecuting parents and guardians who involve their children in labour activities. There should not be any compromises at all.
BY: ELEANOR OBENG APPIAH, JOURNALIST.