International Day of the African Child is celebrated around the globe on 16 June each year in order to raise awareness around the ongoing need for government, institutions and NGOs to act on issues affecting vulnerable children across the African continent; most importantly, the improvement of education and the full realisation of the rights of African children. Every year a new theme is proposed, designed to highlight different aspects of the problems experienced by Africa’s youth, with 2019s focus being ‘Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First’. For the global non-profit organisation, Afrika Tikkun, South Africa’s youth aged seven to thirty five are at the core of their efforts.
Onyi Nwaneri, Group Executive of Strategic Partnerships and Marketing at Afrika Tikkun says, “The developmental work of our Cradle to Career 360˚ model is essentially geared towards enhancing the wellbeing, empowerment and protection of the youth of today. Of critical importance to us is that the voices of the most vulnerable are heard and, naturally, upholding the rights of children plays a crucial role. Our core belief is that every young person has the potential to change the world”.
Afrika Tikkuns Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres offer age appropriate care for those aged two to six, and a curriculum that produces school ready children. This age group has been identified as an extremely important time for growth across all areas of development.
The Child and Youth Development (CYD) Programme works holistically with young people aged seven to eighteen towards facilitating their emotional, intellectual, physical, mental and social development. The programme provides learning and homework support, life skills, sports, arts and culture activities, as well as interventions tailored for the specific outcomes of a higher matric pass rate, positive life choices, taking responsibility for their own lives and further learning opportunities.
The Career Development Programme (CDP) provides career guidance, job readiness training, job placement and bursaries for further learning; targeted at young adults between nineteen and thirty-five years of age. The key outcome is economically empowering young people and breaking the cycle of poverty. These young people should be able to navigate the job market and access opportunities for sustainable employment or self-employment.
In addition, Afrika Tikkun offers an Alumni Programme that aims to secure new ways of curbing youth unemployment as well as outreach and support services to children of all ages with programmes such as Nutrition and Food Security, Health Care, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Child Abuse, Family Support and an Empowerment Programme for Children and Families Living with Disabilities.
“Together with like-minded supporters we are passionate about developing young people from cradle to career. Throughout all our programmes we aim to shape economically empowered youth so that they, in turn, can contribute to the successful building of our nation”, remarks Nwaneri.
Youth empowerment is a prevailing tool in combatting poverty, crime, violence and poor governance. Empowerment guides youth toward developing a wholesome outlook on life and encourages personal development of the individual. This process starts in early childhood and becomes even more important as young people mature.
Nwaneri concludes, “In South Africa we celebrate International Day of the African Child on the same day as Youth Day because they are so integrated. It is a very auspicious day for us because it speaks directly to our objectives as an organisation”.