On the welfare of African children: A brief meditation


By Abdulafeez Olaitan

By the year 2050, data from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) confirms that one in three of the world’s children under the age of 18 will be African.

Taking into account that African children are expected to occupy such a prodigious sector in the circle graph of world children statistics, consequently, their welfare should be of relatively high importance.

Stressing the need for improved attention and reform, to come to the painstaking realization that the average African child today is still riddled with so many adversities is just as distasteful.

Champion of under-5 mortality

A September 2020 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) affirmed that one in thirteen children born in sub-Saharan Africa do not live up to their 5th birthday, making the region the champion of under-5 mortality rate in the world.

Child mortality is a morass which is at the focal point of gradual evolutionary and economic collapse. Hence, the immediate need for improved attention and reform. Child mortality needs to be kept in check, especially in delicate and hotspot regions such as Africa.

It is not untrue to say that the negligence rendered to African children starts right from infancy and if luckily, these children survive this critical period of childhood; follows right into youthhood, and subsequently adulthood.

Capacity building

To thrive in a fast-changing world, developing and strengthening the instincts, processes and resources which African children need to survive and adapt is of great importance.

“Early access to health services, education, safe water and other goods and services can maximize a child’s opportunities as an adult. To improve opportunities in Africa, governments should develop policies to ensure that basic services cover more people, especially the poor and disadvantaged,” contained in a 2015 publication by The World Bank Group. 

Inaccessibility of the basic human needs to African children is another morass worth addressing. This speaks much louder about the state of affairs of children across Africa. Likewise, how they struggle to fit themselves into a society of negligence, at the same time challenged by unfavorable governance, hunger, war, disease, economic depreciation and whatnot.

Supporting this claim, the publication further states: “In Africa, 1/3 of one-year-old children are not vaccinated for measles, 25% of primary school-aged children are out of school, and 25% of children don’t have safe drinking water.”

These statistics are more than just indicators of the general well-being of children.

Access to primary education, basic health services, safe drinking water, electricity and adequate nutrition at a young age are particularly critical for allowing a child to attain his or her full potential.

Thinking forward

Reiterating the aforementioned report about the continual increment in the rate of procreation of African children, it is rather pertinent to outlay reforms towards influencing the African children’s social and economic circumstances. This in turn can help shape their realities anew and quality of life in adulthood.

Worthy of deliberation is the mainstream saying that African children deserve a right to quality education. In truth, maybe even one taught in their own most preferred language; as was the opinion of the youthful pioneers in Soweto, South Africa.

The event which unfolded on the 16th day of June 1976 has cemented itself into the hearts of many and with it came some harsh realities.

For example, author Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu posited that a change in language of instruction—from native to foreign languages—would force learners to focus on understanding the [foreign]language instead of the subject material, which would not only discourage critical thinking, but also make critical analysis of the content difficult.

It is with firm belief that a step in the right direction would lay good paths for the African children, and the ones to come.