On 20 November, we celebrate Universal Children’s Day. This important day recognises that children are our future, and that we should all work towards the goal of helping them to reach their full potential. Let’s explore this landmark day and how you can celebrate it.
What is Universal Children’s Day?
Universal Children’s Day was established more than 60 years ago by the United Nations. The 20th of November marks an important date in history, as the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on this day in 1959. Exactly 30 years later, the Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Signed by all 193 of the UN’s member states, these two documents signify a global commitment towards protecting the rights of children.
Are the rights of children being protected sufficiently?
In many respects, the worldwide commitment to secure the rights of children is not being realised. An estimated 262 million children, out of a total world population of approximately 2 billion children, do not attend school. In 2017, an estimated 6.3 million children died before turning 15, with around half of these deaths being due to conditions that could have been prevented with simple interventions.
South Africa’s Bill of Rights states that every child has the right to:
- A name and nationality
- Family care or parental care
- Basic nutrition, shelter, health care services and social services
- Be protected from abuse
- Be protected from exploitative labour
- Not be required to perform work that is inappropriate for their age
- A basic education.
Unfortunately, millions of children in South Africa, particularly those living in disadvantaged areas, are being deprived of these rights every single day.
How can you celebrate Universal Children’s Day this year?
For 2018, blue has been adopted as the ‘colour of the child’. The United Nations is encouraging people from all sectors of society to wear blue clothing or accessories, and share photographs on social media under the hashtag #GoBlue.
The UN has also developed several educational lessons to help children understand and realise their rights. They encourage teachers, parents, caregivers and guardians to use these lessons to educate children.
Want to take things a step further?
Access to quality basic education is one of the greatest challenges in developing countries around the world. According to Statistics South Africa, more than half of children from lower income households do not attend early childhood development (ECD) facilities. The first five years of a child’s life is crucial in terms of development, and the need for more ECD facilities and practitioners is becoming increasingly urgent.
If the idea of educating children appeals to you, then you could consider one of the following careers:
- Playschool teacher
- Day care centre administrator
- Day care centre manager
- Assistant grade R teacher
- Au pair
As adults, it is our responsibility to care for, nurture and protect children. This Universal Children’s Day, play your role in helping children to flourish!
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