The children hosted the event. The program directors of the day created a pleasant mood and started the event by inviting the distinguished guest to the dance floor. The children had well prepared for the event with the assistance of their SOS mothers and educational teachers. During the event, different children were reimagine a better world for every child sharing inspirational messages to teach, poetry to motivate and drama to inspire. They had beautifully displayed their artwork, that was used to teach about wrong habits to avoid during covid-19 and inspire others children with skills to be busy with during the schools lockdown. Dances were the order of the day as both boys and girls interchanged dances moves entertaining the guest.
Although he appreciated the government intervention with providing free educational lessons through the national television and radio, he commented that virtual/ online learning has now passive and not interactive, as not many chances are afforded to students to ask at home whilst the lessons are ongoing. The student teacher interaction is minimal and thus students learn without understanding and comprehension of concepts.
During an open dialogue Bandile Mabuza representing children in the Kingdom of Eswatini commented on the issues that children face during this pandemic, such as Gender based Violence that results to mental health issues in teenagers. He provided statistics that continue to show the gender inequality that prevails in Eswatini. He made an example of how young boys who impregnate girls are still allowed to continue with their education whilst, girls are kicked out of school and discontinue their education. Bandile emphasized the importance of equal education and stated that the lack of adequate ICT gadgets continue to create a huge educational divide between the poor and the affording learners.
He pleaded to the government and partners to provide less privileged children with the technological gadgets they need for virtual leaning to make their learning smooth. Bandile further suggested that schools could be opened with strengthened regulations during the pandemic. He concluded his open dialogue speech by requesting children’s representative in parliament or youth parliament to tackle most if not all children issues.
Every child is a treasure
UN Resident Coordinator; Nathalie Ndongo- Seh, applauded all the children for their impactful participation and dialogue. She said she was delighted in celebrating the day with the children at the SOS children’s Villages Mbabane. She further highlighted that every a child is treasure and the future of Eswatini. Although this year has been a year of devastation, she promised that the UN and partners would continue to fight for all children to go back to school and not fall into poverty.
Director of the children’s department at the Deputy Prime Ministers Office, Mhambi Ndlangamandla said “Everything you have said we will take into consideration when we are developing programmes for children in the department”.
Concluding the event, UNICEF Natalie Daries, who is head of child protection at UNICEF Eswatini Country Office was representing the Country Representative, mentioned that there is great improvement in the health and educational systems of Eswatini. She acknowledge that there is still more work to be done to ensure that every child is protected and can learn in order to reach their dreams.