Day of the African Child 2023: MINAS Says Excess Use of Internet Could Compromise Children’s Privacy

Activities to mark the celebration of the 33rd edition of the Day of the African Child took place on Friday 16th of June 2023 at the Yaounde I Council.

Chaired by Cameroon’s Social Affairs Minister, Pauline Irene Nguene alongside, Pr. Marie-Therese Abena Ondoa, Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, the 33rd edition of the Day of the African Child was officially celebrated on June 16, 2023, at the courtyard of the Yaounde I council.

The celebration which gathered hundreds of children, administrative authorities, civil society organizations, and Representatives of international agencies such as UNICEF and Plan International Cameroon, was marked by a series of keywords and advocacy.

photo credit: Cellcom MINAS

The ceremony kicked off with a welcome address from the Mayor of the Yaounde I council. Jean-Marie Abouna said his council has inscribed in its road map a good number of programs to favour children’s education, training, and socio-economic reinsertion.

Speaking on behalf of children, Anne Daniella Ngankou, female junior MP from the Center region of Cameroon, in her speech called for parents’ responsibility. She cautioned parents, tutors, and the overall population about some social scourges that impact negatively on children’s education and the advent of technologies that causes more harm than good nowadays.

In the meantime, the Deputy Country Director of Plan International Cameroon, Mrs Mballa Tiobouo Estelle said the protection of children against all forms of violence is an imperative of Human Rights.

Madam Mballa Tiobouo Estelle went further in her address, to highlight the relevant aspects of the theme of the 33rd edition of the Day of the African Child as it englobes the core missions and objectives of the 2022-2024 Strategic Plan of their organization.

According to the Deputy Country Director of the leading organization of children’s rights, objective 3 focusing on the protection of vulnerable children notably girls against all abuses and violence is stated in this year’s theme being: “The Rights of the Child in a Digital Environment”.

In the official key address, Social Affairs Minister made an update on the use of internet and its access worldwide and especially in Africa having a 43% internet penetration since 2022.

Minister Pauline Irene Nguene said this internet penetration rate takes into account the number of children, who represent one-third of all internet users around the world and are increasingly exposed to the virtual environment.

The Minister of Social Affairs pointed out the fact that the theme of this year brings in a lot of important questioning.

She said: “It is therefore a big challenge for our states because access to the Internet, mobile phones, and other information and communication technologies have considerably upset habits in recent years, particularly about sharing some information. The digital revolution is having a significant impact on virtually every aspect of our lives. It is changing the way we do business and the way we work and live. And the impact of what is commonly called digital civilization spares no one, especially children.”

Pauline Irene Nguene underscored the invaluable opportunities offered by internet in the realization of children’s fundamental rights, distance learning, and training.  

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the Internet has enabled our children to continue to benefit from their right to education through distance learning through digital means.” The Minister said.

Social Affairs Minister outlined the fact that, though internet has several benefits, it also exposes children to many dangers such as sexual harassment, abuse, violence, and other harmful practices. The occasion was therefore well seized to call parents to exercise their duties, monitor their children, and dialogue with them to sensitize them on the ills of internet.

For recall, the Day of the African Child (DAC) was instituted in 1991 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. At that time, students marched protesting the poor-quality education they received and demanding to be taught in their languages. During the protest, hundreds of schoolchildren were killed. The Day of the African Child is celebrated to commemorate these children and the brave action they took to defend their rights. The Day of the African Child also serves to celebrate children of Africa as well as inspire sober reflection and action towards addressing the challenges that children in Africa face daily.

Elise Kenimbeni

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