COVID-19, climate-induced disasters, the Afghanistan crisis, the Ukraine conflict, and other forgotten crises such as in the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and Yemen – threats against global stability and security are at extraordinary highs and projected to worsen. Communities, families, and children are suffering at unprecedented levels, with basic securities and rights being stripped from them, often in the blink of an eye. Essential services like education, health, and child protection are deteriorating, or sometimes abruptly disappearing, only further exacerbating related refugee crises and challenging recovery efforts.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 258 million children around the world were already failing to access basic education. Hundreds of millions more – over 50 percent of those children in school in low and middle-income countries – were accessing education but nevertheless unable to read and understand a basic text by the end of primary school. With COVID-19 school closures affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners – over 90 percent of the world’s school-going population – an additional 11 million children are at risk of not returning to school, and child illiteracy is expected to rise sharply from 50 to 70 percent. During the pandemic, about 40 percent of lowand lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion, such as those living in remote areas, the poor, linguistic minorities, and learners with disabilities. The UN Secretary-General has called the effects of the pandemic on learning a global generational catastrophe.

Adding to this, children will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change, as extreme weather events and slowonset changes intensify in magnitude. Floods and tropical storms that damage or destroy schools leave children with no place to learn, particularly exposing girls to increased risks of violence and exploitation.

Changing weather patterns and droughts affecting agricultural livelihoods add financial stress to vulnerable families, who may turn to child labour, child marriage, or other negative coping strategies instead of their children’s education. Adding further to this, armed conflict and political instability is driving refugee crises and attacks on education itself. Prior to the most recent developments in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other crises, over 11,000 attacks on education facilities or military use of them were reported between 2015 and 2019.

Conflict and instability exacerbate existing gender inequalities and harmful gender norms, and as a result, girls’ education and schools are particularly at risk. In total, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) – the global fund for education in emergencies – estimates that 75 million vulnerable, school-aged children and youth are already missing out on education due to armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural and climate-change-induced disasters, and other protracted crises.

Safe, quality, transformative education is a foundation for peace, tolerance, human rights, sustainable development, and better futures. Sustainable Development Goal 4 – ambitious at its onset – is quickly becoming but a pipedream for many children around the world. It is paramount to urgently increase international cooperation to protect the right to education of children and learners from being disrupted by emergencies and crises like COVID-19, climate change, and conflict.

Central to this urgent need is three interrelated pillars of

(1) Building resilient education systems,

(2) Increasing gender equality and reducing marginalisation, and

(3) Upholding accountability and financing.


Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963. It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world. The organisation was transformed into the African Union on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, but the holiday continues to be celebrated on 25 May.


The First Congress of Independent African States was held in AccraGhana on 15 April 1958. It was convened by Prime Minister of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and comprised representatives from Egypt (then a constituent part of the United Arab Republic), EthiopiaLiberiaLibyaMoroccoSudanTunisia, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon and of the host country Ghana. The Union of South Africa was not invited. The conference showcased progress of liberation movements on the African continent in addition to symbolising the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Although the Pan-African Congress had been working towards similar goals since its foundation in 1900, this was the first time such a meeting had taken place on African soil.

The Conference called for the founding of an African Freedom Day, a day to “…mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”

The conference was notable in that it laid the basis for the subsequent meetings of African heads of state and government during the Casablanca Group and the Monrovia Group era, until the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.


Five years later, on 25 May 1963, representatives of thirty African nations met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie. By then more than two-thirds of the continent had achieved independence, mostly from imperial European states. At this meeting, the Organisation of African Unity was founded, with the initial aim to encourage the decolonisation of AngolaMozambiqueSouth Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The organisation pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters, and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter was set out which sought to improve the living standards across member states. Selassie exclaimed, “May this convention of union last 1,000 years.”

The charter was signed by all attendees on 26 May, with the exception of Morocco.[a] At that meeting, Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day.[4] In 2002, the OAU was replaced by the African Union. However, the renamed celebration of Africa Day continued to be celebrated on 25 May in respect to the formation of the OAU.


Almost 70 percent of all children engaged in child labour were in agriculture and this is the only sector in recent years that has seen an increase in child labour – delegates were told during the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour. 

Bernd Seiffert, Focal Point for Child Labour in Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed more children further into child labour.  

Seiffert said eliminating child labour in the agricultural sector was a collective effort among all stakeholders. He said agriculture needs cross-sectoral solutions where stakeholders work together to eliminate child labour.  

He identified: quality education, vocational training, social protection, women’s empowerment, climate-smart practices, proper natural resources management and collaboration between the ministries of agriculture, labour and employment as some of the policy instruments that can be used to eliminate child labour in the agriculture sector. 


The 16-year-old boy tells us that:

Closure of schools led to lack of counselling and guidance services school offers. Schools are second homes for learners. Infact; Woolfe. Murgatroyd and Rhys (1987:3) suggested that guidance and counselling can be convinced as opposite ends, a continuum concerned with the nature of the relationship between helpers and those seeking help. Home schooling during COVID-19 is welcomed but it is not the same as one going to school as there is an element of intolerance by those helping us at home.

Stakeholders have turned a crisis into an opportunity, what with data and smart phone and tutoring. Different learning styles (online) should enhance effective learning as there are different perceptions about the mind. We understand that learners could learn to be independent in lower and higher education as we need to start doing our research.

However, this style of learning does not enhance effective learning as it is hard to understand without the guidance of a teacher, where you can ask without being judged or have another student asking on your behalf and you get to understand – a hide away place. Even sad now is that other children do not have phones whilst some do not have means of buying data bundles. Once going to school is considered, similar topics which were done online should be revisited for the sake of learners with no mobile phones and those who still need guidance. Parents and children who are able to afford things other children need but cannot afford should consider sharing. We need to have schools open because that is where we are free and feel comfortable learning without feeling ‘stupid’. Zambians need to unite in this fight of COVID.’

These stories remain a testament of how children seek validation in a familiar environment and that COVID-19 has negatively affected them in that regard.


The Children’s Parliament President tells us that;

‘Mozambique is a member state of signatories to global and regional legal instruments, international and regional conventions to protection of children’s rights. It is the role of parliamentarians as mandated by the instruments to make sure that children’s rights are protected. It is important for the national budget to incorporate children’s issues as a way to contribute to social and economic issues of their country. There has to be equity in distribution of resources. Children and youth have to be represented in the budget. Children needs assessment should be conducted to establish how children have been affected by COVID-19 in Mozambique and lead SADC by example as Chair of the region. Child participation is also paramount for them to tell their own stories. Interventions should be well spent in order to enact child friendly budgets that cater for the needs of children and ascertain and assess use of public funds set for the purpose and measure how leaders use funds appropriately.  The issue is not about the scarcity of resources but whether the budget set aside is used for intended purposes. In Mozambique there were budgets made specifically for COVID-19 and we need to make sure that the budgets help people with education on COVID-19 and enable all children to access online education for equity assurance.

That is why as Children’s parliament we saw it fit to play our part in the COVID 19 emergency response joined CSOs to empower and protect children and their parents with initiatives aimed at fighting COVID 19 such as empowering children to become leaders. We reach children via radio programs and radio programs. This has helped a lot to reduce anxiety among children as peers like them speak to them and it has also helped parents to take us seriously.’

Mozambique case demonstrates that children can play a leadership role that positively impact on other children and need to be harnessed for greater reach and results.


At 14 years, Ben says;

‘With changes in our hard-earned organized routines, we have fallen into a state of panic and chaos. We are restless with these crippling thoughts that keep us awake at night, with fear impending loss due to COVID 19. Our mental status is not alright. We are confused as children, not understanding the virus issues enough. We are unable to comprehend the situation it has brought us into. The immediate termination of schools when COVID 19 began spelled disaster for students everywhere. We could not handle the rapid change in our normal routines, everywhere as all too sudden. The transition to online learning was not an easy one for those who managed to efficiently utilize it. Most kids in Lesotho were so new to it that their consistency rate decreased within a matter of weeks and I can even stress the matter that some underprivileged kids whom without the material to practice their right to education online were left to compromise.

This is all tragic on its own, but the crux of the matter is the child psychic. The traumatizing stress we are going through at this time is a matter not to be taken lightly. Depression, anxiety, trauma and mental distress in general. These are the issues faced by children on a daily basis. Current development of COVID 19 has made matters worse, especially for children who are in dire need of special care. Our mental health is already an unattended problem. COVID 19 has created a chronic mental disorder that has made matters worse. The anxiety levels have risen since the pandemic and this has left many children mentally distorted.’

COVID-19 has affected children in all their lives dimensions and it will take all stakeholders to work together to restore children’s lives to functionality.


The 15 years old Gaone narrates her story as follows

‘Nearly 2 months ago, I began to feel ill, I would frequently find myself exhausted and brought to a state of breathlessness. I could hardly make up in the morning for school, however I had to put on a straight face and as before, continued with school. I had always hated asking for help and didn’t want to be a nuisance to anyone. I gathered up the courage to finally open up about my current state. I approached my uncle with whom I lived with. He, however, unintentionally turned a blind eye and concluded that I was probably just imagining it because I hate school. I smiled half-heartedly, not convinced by his argument. Some days later, one particular morning, I arrived at school with a heavy beating in my chest that left me unable to breathe and exhausted, hardly unable to walk.

One of my school mates had forgotten to take her high blood pills, again I smiled half-heartedly as I didn’t want to be a kid who suddenly fell ill because someone else did. I didn’t want to be seen as an opportunist. Arriving in class, I dragged myself towards my seat. My situation is only worsening. I began to lose breath, almost completely unable to breathe with the mask on my face not easing the situation. I then told the class teacher in class and rushed home a few hours later. The school demanded that I go for testing before returning to school. My uncle took me to a clinic in Maseru. Though we arrived at the blink of dawn, a swarm of people were already lined up by the entrance gate.

There was not authoritative figure to control the entrance and exit. A man who himself had come to test had begun writing down a list of people. We waited in line the whole day, until sunset drew near and at last, I was finally able to get tested. Much to my surprise, there were only 3 doctors in the whole clinic, seemingly also attending to a patient with only one of the doctors conducting tests. He demanded we call him after 5 days and to this day I still haven’t got the results.’

She concludes by saying experiences like this traumatize them as children – firstly by sharing with parents or guardians about their health scares to informing teachers at school and to the health facility itself.



Meaningful child participation and inclusivity remained one of the concepts that CRNSA and its members knew, conversed but were not practically implementable because of the context – as many SADC member states view children as minors who cannot make sound decisions or contribute much to decisions being made as well as needing more guidance. However, COVID-19 lock down and restrictions on movements facilitated more conversations to take place at family level as families spent more time together and had to talk- it is on this basis that CRNSA supported by Tdh Germany also harnessed on the prevailing circumstances to have more discussions with children and ensure that we listen to them with less adults participating in these meetings save for chaperons and CRNSA secretariat. From the meetings held; that saw us reaching 225 children and other 12,621 people through online engagements; proved to be a learning curve for CRNSA as there was so much to learn around mental health for children – what school closure meant they can’t play or talk to friends who understand them; child abuse- both emotional, physical and sexual perpetrated by family members, relatives and friends; food security – not enough to eat in households; safe and appropriate accommodation – without sharing rooms with parents who then engage in adult activities thinking that children are sleeping. Below are some of the stories documented that we aim to profile in engaging with both duty bearers and rights holders.


“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, my name is kabera Munya I am 10 years old I was first diagnosed with diabetes when I was 8 years old, I am a T 1 G patient, I use insulin and my life depends on it, this is my story during this time of COVID-19. 

I ran out of insulin and when I went to the hospital to get it the nurses told us to go back because they didn’t have protective clothing and couldn’t help us. We had no option but to buy at the pharmacy, what about children without parents, only God knows. Police got us many times on the way and we had to explain ourselves every time. It’s so embarrassing when you are sick. Another problem was when I had to go to the hospital for my monthly check up where they drew blood for more tests, the lines at the hospital were too long, we arrived at 5 in the morning and left the hospital at 4pm. It was a bad experience, I was hungry, tired, frustrated and I wanted to go back home and leave my insulin behind but I knew I was going to die without it.

The government to supply insulin to school clinics and where there are no clinics at school, provide mobile clinics with insulin, provide not only insulin but also test tubes, lancets and alcohol subs. The glucose is expensive but at least it can save.

We need counselling at school for diabetes and other experiences. Let every African know about diabetes. Today people know about HIV and COVID-19, we are diabetic and nobody is saying anything about us. Hear us, we also need help hear us we are suffering, Diabetes is a killer disease, Africa must rise and help us.

1st of December every year world Aids Day is celebrated; do you know anything about the 14th of November? 14th of November is World Diabetes Day; we need that day to be celebrated for the sake of children. Thank You”