The African Union (AU) on Tuesday used the commemoration of the International Day of the African Child to urge “extensive consultation with children” to reach a fair system and conditions on the continent.

“The Day of the African Child was first conceptualized by the heads of state and governments of the then OAU as a commemoration of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. At that time, students marched in protest against the apartheid-inspired and the poor quality of education they received, and demanded to be taught in their own languages. The march resulted in the public killing of many unarmed young protesters by the police,” said AU’s Commissioner for Social Affairs H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil.

“Hence, commemorating this day, I call upon Member States and Stakeholders, in extensive consultation with children, to work together towards deliberately establishing, or strengthening, a comprehensive and coherent national policy and strategy for ‘Children in the Justice System’ which shall consider the interrelatedness of the challenges that children in contact with the law are facing,” she said.

The annual event has been celebrated since 1991, when it was initiated by the predecessor to the AU, the Organisation of African Unity.

It raises awareness about the situation of children in Africa and the need for continuous improvement in education. It also encourages a spirit of abundance to share something special with a child in Africa.

The day honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976.

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