Advocating for and strengthening children’s rights are at the core of Simukai’s mission. Education and knowledge are vital catalysts for development and increased life quality. Simukai realises this and supports Child Protection Committees (CPCs) and Junior School Development Committees (JSDCs) in schools to enable children to claim their rights and to improve their own lives.
Support visits to follow up on activities and programs are done twice a month. During a field visit to Mayo in September we visited seven out of nine schools that receive support from Simukai, through funding by IM – Swedish Development Partner. This support is channelled through different initiatives, which include school fees payments. Children who are identified as being in need of assistance are supported with school fees and stationary, pens and notebooks. The state initiative Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) aim to provide equal access to basic education and covers school fees for vulnerable children. The state is however unable to accommodate every child in need of support, and Simukai complements the work of the government.
Education is a human right and this right is acknowledged in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. There is also a general consensus that education is a foundation for sustainable development. Simukai enforces this and supports children with school fees payments, and empowers children through Child Protection Committees (CPCs) and Junior School Development Committees (JSDCs). Children in the CPCs discuss children’s rights and responsibilities, different forms of abuse, and how to act if one encounters abuse. This is a way to enable children to claim their rights and to know how to act if they themselves are abused or see someone else being abused.
The JSDCs work in a similar way, but focuses on improving the school environment. These types of initiatives encourage child participation and allows for children to express and formulate their opinions. One of the guiding principles in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the right for children to be heard in questions that affect them. Giving children room to express their opinions is also a way of increasing the self-esteem. During our visit to Mayo we visited Mutiwegora primary school and met children that are engaged in the CPC and JSDC. We asked them to tell us about the rights and responsibilities children have, and the children exhibited thorough knowledge in this area. Here are some of their answers:
- Right to education!
- Access to water and sanitation!
- Right to be treated fairly, without being discriminated.
- Right to express oneself freely in one’s own language.
- Access to a clean environment.
- Responsibility to keep the environment clean.
- Right to rest.
- Right to be loved and cared for by a family.
Simukai will continue to work for children’s right to life and development, a right that is enshrined in the UNCRC.
Writer: Anja Melin, intern at Simukai Child Protection Programme, seconded by IM Swedish Development Partner