On March 16, 2017, the All-Africa Students’ Union (AASU), the umbrella body of all national students’ unions in Africa, made a commitment to join the 100 Million campaign to ensure every child is free, safe, and educated.
In a world where more than 260 million young people are out of school, marginalized, and excluded from social justice, this crucial commitment to be a part of the campaign was a moral imperative we could not ignore. 260 million young people out of school and marginalized is untenable; especially when you consider that the world has enough resources for everyone’s need.
Since the launch of the national coordination group of the 100 Million campaign in Ghana, AASU has intensified its efforts at getting all children enrolled in school. During the 7th Africa Students’ and Youth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, AASU hosted a roundtable discussion geared towards galvanizing support for the 100 Million campaign. Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate and co-founder of the 100 Million campaign, inspired 2000 young people from 35 countries to take action for the most marginalized children in their respective countries.
Persistent activism is needed from all
At the core of our belief system at AASU, we acknowledge and hold a sacrosanct view that change can only come about when a critical mass decides to take action: the week of global action from November 12 to 18 presents a key opportunity to be part of the global movement to challenge parliamentarians and government officials around the world to end the extreme marginalization of 100 million children and young people.
No action is too small to count for nothing, like that timeless adage, “water does not cut through a rock because of its force, rather, it does so owing to its persistence”. Such is the character we will have to show in order to end abuses of children’s rights, including child labor: we must persist until this bane is wiped out completely.
A week of action to promote freedom, safety and education
In Africa, young people, especially students, will be joining their peers from around the world to mark the week of global action in diverse ways. The highlight will be the gathering of students in Accra, Ghana, on November 17 to request African parliamentarians to enshrine laws that protect the rights of children to be free, safe and educated.
We are also planning to provide a preview of the new, award-winning documentary The Price of Free, which focuses on the work of Kailash Satyarthi. The documentary opens our eyes to the injustice of child labor, told through the stories of some of the 86,000 children rescued from slavery in India, and how we can end child labor for good and restore the right of every child to be counted. The chilling stories embodied in this documentary will without doubt move every citizen to act to create a better world.
In direct support for the 100 Million campaign, AASU will be launching its new Education Enrollment Program (EEP). The EEP is an effort to get every child out of child labor (especially its worst forms) and enroll them into mainstream education and/or other forms of learning as the circumstances may determine. Her Excellency the Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Samira Bawumia, will officially launch the program during the event on November 17.
Members of Parliament, Ministers of State, and other key government officials will be asked to make commitments to end child labor in all its forms. We will be interested in knowing what they will do in their various capacities to ensure every child in their communities is free, safe, and educated. We are committed to conducting follow-up to ensure these commitments do not become just footnotes in the pages of history.
A call to action
On behalf of the AASU, I want to call on every student to let their voice be heard next week: the obligation we owe this world is to speak for those who do not have a voice. The development we strive for our world will only be guaranteed when the children who will be leading it tomorrow are equipped with the requisite education today.
What we seek is a world where every child is free, safe, and educated. Will you join us?