Child parliament members advocate for inclusive education and health

Adriana, at only 13, is the elected president of the Provincial Child Parliament in Gaza province, southern Mozambique. Recently, she appealed to the government to expand inclusive education in order to include as many children with disabilities as possible.

“Before we close the session of questions and answers to the government, I want to appeal for an attention to inclusive education, because currently we only have one special school for children with disabilities and the remaining others, from the 11 other districts should move to only one district, what if they don’t have the resources to?" asked Adriana.

Children asked the government about education for children with disabilities and assistance for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Adriana was speaking as part of the two-day session of the child parliament that gathered nearly 200 children from 12 districts that compose Gaza province.

Participants with the ages ranging from 10 years to 17 years old addressed the government authorities demanding a number of issues.

“We want to know from the government, what are they doing to help children infected with HIV/AIDs?” asked Abencio Manjate, 11 years old, from Guija district, one of the areas where World Vision Mozambique operates, through funds from Hong Kong.

Abencio was representing his constituency and his concern is legitimate, given that Gaza province is the most affected by HIV and AIDS in the country, with a 25 per cent rate of prevalence according to the Health Authorities in its latest report.

Moreover, children are among the most affected given that they become orphans and at times are forced to head their families.

Planning for the next two years

The new chairperson will be in front of the parliament for the coming two years and said she wants to contribute to change everything that is wrong for children.

“We have children that are vendors in the market, and they don’t go school because of that, this is sad,” said Adriana.

Adriana replaced Ribeiro Nhambe, from Mandlacazi district, another area supported by World Vision through funds from Canada and Switzerland.

“I evaluate this two years, that [I] was in front of the Child Parliament, positively, we managed to achieve significant results in child protection and the dissemination of children rights at schools and the communities where we live,” said Ribeiro.

Ribeiro belongs to a group of child parliament members that were responsible for a number of reports to the authorities over the abuse of children at school.

Because of that, Ribeiro and his group were awarded by the US funded Child Protection project, for their bravery in reporting a schoolteacher who had attacked his pupil.

The child protection project 

The World Vision 5-year Child Protection Project organises annual events to award the Child Protection champions, those who go the extra mile in promoting child protection elements within the community, and the prizes have so far been given to local leaders, judges, community police officers and the police itself, including children.

Among the challenges that Riberio said he found during his term was the unavailability to visit every district and evaluate how other child parliamentary groups where disseminating information over children rights.

“I hope the new executive won’t be facing the same problems, and that [they] will be able to achieve more than what we did for the well being of all children,” said Riberio.

The provincial government authorities recognised the role played by World Vision in making child parliament sessions come true and a success and its role in empowering children in the areas it operates.    

“We want to take this opportunity to thank World Vision for the contribution in making child parliament sessions come true,” said the Social Affairs representative.

Children moved on during the two-day session to address the government and wanted to know what the authorities were doing to protect children from the Ebola virus that is causing death, concerns in central Africa including in countries where World Vision operates.

“Are there any strategies put in place, to protect children in the country from Ebola virus?” asked Yara from Child Parliament.

The parliament closed with a number of recommendations to be implemented in the entire province towards child well being.

The child parliament session is the highest official children’s platform, where they are able to put the voice up and out, straight to the government and other key stakeholders on all issues that concern them.

These concerns were put straight to the provincial directors from different sectors, among them health and social affairs, non-government organizations such as World Vision and Save the Children.