National Children and Youth Summit

22 May 2018


In an effort to reach the 2020 goal of building child marriage free communities under Her Choice campaign, OneFamilyPeople and Kids Advocacy Network hosted a National Children and Youth Summit on the 4th May 2018 at Kona Lodge, Freetown. The summit featured an interactive session with participants.

Nearly 200 people, including children, youth with and without disabilities, teachers, policy makers, and civil society from across the country gathered in Freetown to collectively discuss ways to improve the education sector, increase access for girls and end child marriage. 

New Direction 

His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Juldeh Jalloh gave the key note address on behalf of His Excellency the President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who was out of the country on official state visit.

While commending OneFamilyPeople and Kids Advocacy Network for organizing the event, His Excellency promised prompt action will be taken by the government on the recommendations arising from the interactive session.

His Excellency announced that his government is developing a National Education Policy to increase access to quality education at every level, with the goal of enabling children to engage in meaningful and productive economic activities.

On the issue of child marriage, His Excellency announced that his government would implement the Child Rights Act and design standardized policies and laws to combat child marriage. He said that the new government intends to develop a national strategy to provide protection, rehabilitation and reintegration support for victims of child marriage. 

“Addressing disability issues has been a challenge not only in Sierra Leone but also in the rest of sub-Sahara Africa” he noted. He recognized the prevalence of stereotypes about disability at every level of society including government, institutional and community level.

He assured participants that his government will draw a policy document to provide opportunities and create pathways for people with disabilities in order to find places in school and work.

He concluded his statement by inviting civil society to build strategic partnerships with government so as to monitor and engage line ministries to ensure effective implementation of government’s commitment and obligations.

Improving the Education – Our Collective Responsibility

Executive Director of Kids Advocacy Network, Edmond Alim B. Fornah, who chaired the summit, stressed the importance of investing in education as a means to end child marriage and gender inequality. "Achieving equality will benefit both the families, communities and the nation as a whole" he commented.

The deputy Director OneFamilyPeople, Hadiatou Diallo called on government and donor partners to step up and show commitment by delivering on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to ‘leave no-disabled child behind’ in the New Direction Policy. 

She added, “it is high time that accessible education becomes a reality for children and youngsters with disabilities in Sierra Leone, all children including those with disabilities and girls must feel safe and welcome at school, wherever they are in the country”.

UNICEF education specialist Heinnch Rukundo said his organization will continue to support education and make it very inclusive stressing that they will continue to fund child related activities across the country.

The Senior Social Services Officer, Ministry of Social Welfare Daniel Gbom, described child marriage as a human rights violation that impedes on development of girls in Sierra Leone and consequently on their families, communities and education.

Similar statements were made by the National Children’s Commission, the Interim President Children's Forum Network, the Executive Director Society for Peace and Development and UN Women.

The event climaxed with live band performance by The Great Walpoleans. They performed their campaign songs titled ‘give me my rights’, ‘one love’ and ‘stand up for your rights’. Their impairment could not stop them from shining their light when performing.

The summit was funded by the International Child Development Initiative under Her Choice Project, and co-funded by UNFPA, Mercury International and Advocacy Movement Network.




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