On June 16, Educate a Child in Africa (ECA) joined the international community to commemorate the Day of the African Child. The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16th every year since 1991 when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It honors those who participated in the Soweto uprising in 1976. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improving the quality of education provided to African children.
As part of activities to commemorate the 25th edition of the International Day of the African Child, Educate a Child in Africa conducted an outreach program in Wovia and Batoke villages of the South West Region of Cameroon. The goal of this outreach program was to get the opinion of parents and children on this year’s theme which is “Twenty five years after the adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our collective efforts to end child marriage in Africa”.
On the 15th and 16th of June, the Educate a Child in Africa team went out to sample the opinion of the village dwellers about the causes and solutions of child marriage. It was observed that customs, family pressure and vicissitudes of life are the common factors that push children into early marriages. The respondents were unanimous on the fact that for this practice to be put to an end, dialogue in homes should be encouraged while parents should educate their children rather than welcome suitors.
Criss crossing these two communities and talking to respondents, it was easy to settle on the fact that illiteracy, tradition and poverty are the three most glaring reasons why girls get married at an early age in Africa. Even though some parents were fast in denying their contribution in their daughter’s getting married at a premature age, parents are at the center of their children’s life in Cameroon and most African countries even above the age of 18 years. In cases where traditions and customs are not the determinant factors, the parents are key in deciding whether their children should get married early or not.