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Opinions of Monday, 14 December 2009

Columnist: Kuyini, Ahmed Bawa

Ghana’s Child Protection Law: Culture as a challenge to implementation

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides for a uniform set of rights for all of the world’s children, was an opportunity for governments to institute legislation, policies and structures for setting in motion the mechanisms for realising these rights at the country level. Aside from making provisions for enhancing child survival, participation, and development, the convention makes provisions for the protection of children from harm and exploitation The Ghana Government’s aim of enacting and implementing the child rights legislation (Children’s Act 1998; Act 560) was to protect and improve the welfare of children.

The law has provided opportunities for tailoring some meaningful services to many children in Ghana in the last ten years. A careful study of national and regional initiatives indicated an awareness of the idea of rights pertaining to children. The general population is also becoming cognizant of the attention paid to the welfare of children from both public and private institutions including local and international NGOs.

In Northern Ghana renown organisations such as UNICEF and small NGOs/networks such as Crescent Educational Volunteer Services (CEVS-Ghana) and Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child a are making their own contribution to this field. And although it critical that reforms to protect and support children and families are built on legal protections, effective implementation is contingent on several facilitating factors, which seem to be lacking in Ghana. A small study of implementation in northern Ghana indicates that there are many unresolved issues and challenging at the street level or in the districts, which suggest that effective child protection can be a demanding proposition for many developing countries.

The challenges mentioned in this study show that much still needs to be done to make the law more effective in respecting the rights, protecting and meeting the needs of all children. Social values constitute the cultural infrastructure on which further social development is based. In this sense, the new law intends to create new values or realign existing Ghanaian values to the demands of our time and to ensure that children are first children before they become adults. The adherence to these laws and cultivating such values around the status of children will be the ultimate product of government, individual and collective community effort that would determine the future course and outcomes for our children. The pragmatic reality though is that any appreciable success will also depend on the availability of resources to support the implementation agencies. See full report at www.cevsghana.org

Dr. Ahmed Bawa Kuyini For CEVS, Tamale