Beyond 75: Our Promise to Every Child in Gambia

We will never give up on keeping our promise to you!

Beyond 75 Our Promise to Every Child in Gambia
UNICEF Gambia | photo credit | Facebook

Today, the world came together to establish the United Nations Children’s Agency to support and protect the lives of children devastated by World War II.

UNICEF was formed on the belief that no child should be exposed to violence, abuse, or neglect, regardless of who they are or where they come from, and on a commitment to galvanise efforts to create a world where every child may survive, grow, and reach their full potential. UNICEF has been committed to this cause for 75 years, and has championed child rights in The Gambia and around the world for decades.

As we commemorate this historic day, we are reminded of the promise we made to children 32 years ago when the United Nations General Assembly enacted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Gambia committed to putting the best interests of children first in whatever it undertakes by ratifying the Convention. Children and young people are The Gambia’s most valuable resource; they will lead the next generation, ushering in change and constructing the future that every Gambian dreams of.

Building that future will necessitate immediate action by the government, its partners, and local communities to improve educational quality, make vaccines available to all children, invest more in children’s and young people’s mental health, and scale up efforts to address the climate issue.

The Gambia has made significant progress in making education available to children across the country, with over 78 percent of primary-school-age children in school.

However, for many youngsters, attending school does not imply that they are learning. The Gambia, like most developing countries, is grappling with a learning problem that, if not solved, might undermine the country’s progress. We must act quickly to change the situation by investing in an education that teaches young people basic reading, writing, and math abilities, as well as problem-solving and critical thinking skills. We must also invest in teachers’ professional development and motivation to educate more effectively.

Providing immunizations to all children helps them avoid diseases like as measles, polio, and smallpox, as well as grow healthier and perform better in school. The Gambia has a strong immunisation record, which we must all work together to maintain. We need to increase vaccine procurement, strengthen cold chain facilities, and battle disinformation that is fueling vaccine apprehension. In tandem, we must do more to eliminate stunting and wasting in early children, as well as scale up programmes and policies that ensure every child’s nutritional health.

Children’s communication, learning, and socialisation are all being transformed by digital technologies. However, remaining online poses significant risks to many children and teenagers.

According to a recent U-Report poll, 84 percent of respondents believe “online sexual harassment and bullying is an issue for children and young people in The Gambia.” Children and young people are becoming increasingly concerned about the future, even outside of digital platforms.

It is past time to safeguard and care for children’s mental health, as well as to incorporate mental health into primary care.

This must be accompanied by a solid policy framework that ensures that all children live in a safe and healthy environment devoid of violence, abuse, and exploitation.

According to a U-Report poll, nearly half of young Gambians say rains and floods are the main climate change-related issues their communities are facing, and half say lower food output is the biggest threat to their livelihoods.

This is clear evidence that if immediate action is not taken, the climate crisis will become a permanent feature in the lives of Gambian children.

It is past time to address the climate issue, increase investments in climate adaptation and resilience, and increase the participation of children and young people in climate decisions.

So, on and beyond our 75th anniversary, our promise to every kid is to never give up on them, to continue listening to them, and to provide a platform for them to raise their voices and demand that their rights be protected and fulfilled.

We will never give up on keeping our promise to you!

Gordon Jonathan Lewis, Unicef Gambia Representative

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