The African Civil Society Forum (CSO Forum) is a group of Civil Society Organizations from all the five
African regions, namely, East, Southern, North, West and Central through their regional child networks.
The Forum exists to speak with one voice in pursuit of the common interest of the rights and welfare
of African children as articulated in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)
and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The CSO Forum was established in 2009 to provide a platform for African child focused CSOs working
on the rights and welfare of children across Africa to engage with the African Committee of Experts on
the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC/the Committee), UNCRC, Member states to the African
Charter, key child rights experts, African Union representatives, and relevant stakeholders engaged in
advancing child rights in Africa. The Forum meets at least twice a year, before the sessions of the
ACERWC, to take stock of progress, challenges, and priorities of children in Africa and prepare
submissions for the ACERWC sessions.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) was adopted in 1990 and came
into force in 1999. The instrument established the ACERWC as the institutionalized mechanism for
monitoring and holding member states accountable for its implementation. The Charter also provides
for the active involvement of civil society actors in supporting the role of the Committee and in ensuring
the effective implementation of the Charter at country level as well as the UNCRC. The CSO Forum has
a standing slot at the ACERWC Sessions where it presents Statements covering key issues agreed on
during CSO Forum Sessions which precede the ACERWC Sessions and the Council on the UNCRC.
The CSO Forum meets twice a year; at the beginning of the year for organizational and/or strategic
issues, and at the end of the year for programmatic issues before the sessions of the ACERWC. These
sessions bring together CSOs working on the rights and welfare of children across Africa, key child
rights experts, Development Partners, and African Union representatives. The 21st Ordinary session
of the CSO Forum builds on the previous session that had a series of activities conducted virtually,
including the Children’s meeting, the side events by partners as well as the main sitting prior to the
39th sitting of the ACERWC. The 21st Ordinary session is scheduled to take place on the 20th to 22nd
November in Maseru, Lesotho, under the theme, “Promoting and Protecting Children’s Rights in
the Digital Environment: gains, opportunities and risks”
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The digital environment is dynamic, constantly evolving and expanding. The digital environment
encompasses information and communications technologies, including digital networks, content,
services and applications, connected devices and environments, virtual and augmented reality,
artificial intelligence, robotics, automated systems, algorithms and data analytics, biometrics and
implant technology. The digital environment is becoming increasingly important across most aspects
of children’s lives, such as in times of crisis, societal functions, educational sphere, government
services and commerce, and have progressively come to rely upon digital technologies. It affords new
opportunities for the realization of children’s rights, but also poses the risks of their violation or abuse1.
The rights of every child must be respected, protected, and fulfilled in the digital environment.
Innovations in digital technologies affect children’s lives and their rights in ways that are wide-ranging
and interdependent, even where children do not themselves access the Internet. Meaningful access
to digital technologies can support children to realize the full range of their civil, political, cultural,
economic, and social rights.
Although access to the internet has repeatedly been recognized as a human right, children that are
online today are typically viewed as the privileged ones. They are the ones whose parents or guardians
can afford devices and data that allow them to access the internet. Such children could continue their
schooling at a time when COVID-19 closed many a school or alternative access points to education.
However, even with access to technology, the pandemic has interrupted education and curtailed
various opportunities for learning. This is at least partly why safeguarding children’s digital futures is
becoming increasingly important. In a world where everything is increasingly moving online, where
everything from dolls to dice are being digitized; children can scarcely afford to lack access, the skills
and capacities needed to benefit from the opportunities that technologies may proffer for their
The Internet exposes children to a wealth of opportunities, but also risks that may have a detrimental
impact on their human rights. Some of these risks include cyberbullying, data protection issues, online
grooming, cybercrimes and online child sexual abuse.
1 UN Child Rights Committee – General Comment 25: “Our rights in a digital world”.
2 South Africa: How do we protect children’s rights in a digital environment only available to some. Anri Van Der
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In view of the above, the 21st CSO Forum will dedicate time to explore and discuss children’s rights in
the digital environment, and ways to promote and protect children’s rights in the digital environment,
with specific focus on the gains, opportunities, and risks of the digital environment on the rights and
welfare of the child. The Forum will start with a children’s session, affording children the opportunity
to share their lived experiences of the digital environment -the good, the bad and how it affects them.
Further to this, both the sessions, notably children and the adults’ session will generate concrete
recommendations that will form the core of the 21st CSO Forum’s Ordinary Session Outcome
- OBJECTIVES OF THE SESSION
The 21st CSO Forum will be guided by the following key objectives.
3.1 To share information and knowledge on children’s rights and the digital environment
3.2 To share knowledge on how to promote and protect children’s rights in the digital environment.
3.3 To explore ways and means to build a safe, secure, and inclusive digital environment for all
3.4 To generate concrete recommendations on how member states should invest on safe and secure
universal access to online platforms.
3.5 To strengthen and build the institutional capacity of regional child rights networks for
organizational efficiency and delivery of evidence-based advocacy agenda around children’s rights
and the digital space.
3.6 To facilitate horizontal learning and sharing on critical child rights issues broadly and strengthen
CSOs and children’s interventions, such as early childhood development (ECD) through the partner
– led side events.
- SCOPE OF THE SESSION
The scope of the 21st CSO Forum’s Ordinary Session includes three main components which include
i) the General Assembly as per the prescription of the constitution, ii) Side events as per the CSO
Forum’s strategic partnership management and iii) capacity building in accordance with the CSO
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Forum’s Strategy Plan. Table 4.1 presents the summarized scope of the CSO Forum over the scheduled
three (3) days.
Table 4.1: Summarized Scope of the 21st CSO Forum’ Ordinary Session
Timeline Focus Areas Lead Person(s)
Day 0: 12th Nov Online Children’s Session (Lived experiences of the digital
Day 1: 20th Nov Official Opening, Solidarity remarks and Side events Secretariat
Day 2: 21st Nov Capacity Building Sessions with Specific focus on;
i) Evidence driven decision-making, ii) Network building and
Management, ii) Good Governance & Effective Leadership, and iv)
Resource Mobilisation and Sustainability
Partners & Key
Day 3: 22nd Nov CSO Forum’s General Assembly (i.e., Internal Organizational
Proceedings, Reporting, Accountability & Strategic Direction)
- METHODOLOGY AND APPROACH
The 21st CSO Forum’s Ordinary session will employ combined approaches, notably plenary and parallel
sessions to stimulate active participation, discussions, engagements, and interactions. The plenary
sessions will be used mainly during the official opening, solidarity remarks and part of the capacity
building session particularly for cross cutting themes or topics. In view of varying interests, the side
events and part of the capacity building sessions will use parallel sessions. During the parallel
sessions, the CSO Forum Secretariat will ensure that delegates from Regional Child Rights networks
spread themselves evenly across various parallel sessions and side events to capitalise on these
unique opportunities provided by the 21st CSO Forum’s Ordinary Session. As a guiding principle, all
the sessions will provide sufficient time for questions, discussions, and where applicable concrete
recommendations and/or next practical steps. The CSO Forum will secure the services of a Rapporteur
who will work with the Secretariat to record and report on the proceedings of the 21st CSO Forum.
Furthermore; the proceedings of the Forum will be live streamed on social media for visibility and
utilisation of the digital platform.
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- TARGET AUDIENCE
The 21st CSO Forum’s Ordinary Session is targeting a total number of 100 delegates drawn from
representatives of ACERWC, representatives from the 5 Regional Child Rights Networks, policy and
decision – makers, child rights activists, CSOs, children, development partners, United Nations, media
houses and the private sector within the digital space.
The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio has regarded the consultative Meeting held with pupils on Wednesday 7th September in Build up to the Transforming Education Summit in New York this month is the best consultation he has had during his presidency and promised to continue.
He made this statement during the meeting with sixty pupils from Pre-Primary, Primary, Junior Secondary School and Senior Secondary Schools, held at State House in Freetown. Pupils comprise special needs kids, adult learners, members of the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) from across the country.
Pupils highlighted challenges they are faced with like the lack of trained and qualified teachers, teachers not going to teach, poor WASH facilities in schools, lack of attention from teachers, special needs pupils have to struggle with unfriendly learning environment, teachers condition of service, lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in schools, lack of libraries among others.
“Indeed we have a learning crisis and that is my greatest worry. What is most important for kids is to be able to read and write at an early age, acquiring the skill later will be a problem,” the President said.
According to the President, all of the issues highlighted by the kids are very important, some of them he knows about, some he did not know about and some he had known about but had not paid attention to.
He said he understands about the lack of furniture, lack of teachers’ attendance, lack of WASH facilities, too many pupils in classrooms, among others, noting that when he embarked on providing Free Quality School Education (FQSE) he was expecting schools to be overwhelmed because he was very much concerned with access.
He commended the pupils for speaking out, noting that his administration will look for the money to address the issues raised and also come up with policies that will address their concerns.
“I choose education because I believe in the transformative power of education for personal development, community development, and for national development,” he said.
Declaring the purpose of the meeting, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr Moinina David Sengeh said he called the pupils to a consultative meeting because he was asked by the President, noting that all of the pupils selected this is their first time going to State House.
He said the meeting will inform what the President will be speaking to in the Transforming Education Summit in New York this month, noting that the President will be speaking about the concerns of pupils in Sierra Leone.
The Transforming Education Summit is being convened in response to a global crisis in education – one of equity and inclusion, quality and relevance. Often slow and unseen, this crisis is having a devastating impact on the futures of children and youth worldwide. The Summit provides a unique opportunity to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda and to mobilize action, ambition, solidarity and solutions to recover pandemic-related learning losses and sow the seeds to transform education in a rapidly changing world.
President Bio is the current Co-Chair (along with the UNESCO Director General) of the UNESCO High-Level Steering Committee for Sustainable Development Goals 4. At the Pre-Summit in Paris in June 2022, leaders committed to monitor the delivery of quality education for all and to hold themselves accountable from the global, down to the regional, to national and local levels.
The United Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, has invited President Bio and Sierra Leone to co-host the Transforming Education Summit that will be held on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly next month. In preparation, the President decided to hold a series of consultations with learners right across the sector from pre-primary to our out-of-school learners.
“We may be a small nation but Sierra Leone is today looked up to as a nation for transformative ideas on education. And, yes, we have achieved all of this and even more in just four short years,” the President concluded.
Millions of children at risk of death unless immediate action is taken to fight the global hunger crisis, warn six of the world’s largest child-focused NGOs
The world is facing a hunger and nutrition crisis of unprecedented scale with one child already being pushed into severe malnutrition every minute, and eight million children are at risk of death in 15 crisis-affected countries unless they receive immediate treatment.
Globally, almost 50 million people are living in emergency or catastrophic levels of acute hunger. The impact of such sheer volumes of people experiencing extreme hunger will have devastating and lifelong impacts on children’s rights to health, nutrition, education, protection and survival if we don’t act now.
We, the CEOs of the six largest child-focused NGOs, united under the Joining Forces Alliance, have come together to express our shared concern about the devastating impacts on children.
Famine is preventable and has no place in the 21st century. In 2017, we demonstrated the power of collective action to avert famine in Somalia. As an international community we have a collective responsibility to ensure that urgent action is taken to prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. We cannot wait for famine to be declared before acting. Over half the deaths in the 2011 Somalia famine, where 260,000 tragically lost their lives, took place before famine was declared. Half of all those that died were children under five years of age.
As organisations that work directly with children, families and communities around the world we see daily the devastating toll that the compounding effects of conflict, climate change and, Covid-19 and the ripple effects of the conflict in Ukraine are having.
The hunger and nutrition crisis is already having profound consequences for children including, threatening child survival and protection and increasing the risk of severe and acute malnutrition. Children are at heightened risk of violence, exploitation and abuse due to dropping out of school, forced labour, recruitment and use by armed forces or armed groups and family separation. Children without parental care are especially vulnerable to food insecurity and its multiple effects. Girls are at particular risk of child, early and forced marriage, early pregnancy, school drop-out, sexual exploitation and abuse. When food is scarce, girls and women often eat less and last.
The rights and needs of children must be prioritised in the response to this crisis. We cannot continue with a business-as-usual approach. The response must be grounded in children’s needs and aspirations, and empower young people as agents of change.
Governments and donors must urgently act to prevent massive loss of life and protect children from life-long lasting negative consequences for millions of children. Food security is not a privilege but a right enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. International leadership and political will must drive both an immediate response and tackle the root causes of hunger, such as conflict, economic shocks, climate change and unequal access to agriculture resources, through collaborative and locally driven solutions.
We commit to work together with governments and donors to ensure that children’s needs are prioritised through a gender-responsive multi-sectoral response spanning food security, nutrition, health, WASH, education, protection and social protection systems, we can address the impacts of the food crisis while protecting lives and building resilience against protracted crisis and future shocks.
Joining Forces is an alliance of the six largest international NGOs working with and for children to secure their rights and end violence against them. The CEOs are: Meg Gardinier, ChildFund Alliance; Stephen Omollo, Plan International; Inger Ashing, Save the Children International; Ingrid Johansen, SOS Children’s Villages International; Valérie Ceccherini, Terre des Hommes; Andrew Morley, World Vision.
International Youth Day is celebrated every year on August 12. This day highlights the pivotal role that young people, including men and women, play in bringing about the change necessary to address global concerns and promote sustainable development. It offers a chance to spread awareness of the difficulties and issues that young people around the world face are facing today. Workshops, concerts, conferences, cultural events, seminars, and meetings with representatives of national and local governments and youth organisations take place all around the world on International Youth Day. The day also motivates the youth to take appropriate steps in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). CRNSA is taking part in this year summit hosted online, with Guest speakers like Dr Manu Chandaria, giving motivation and emphasizing on what is expected of youth of today, also paving way for youth that want to work with government, businesses and taking action.
Letsema Child Rights Ambassadors participates in the launch of Education Plus Initiative in Secretary which aims at increasing Access, retention, and completion of Secondary education for gender equality and wellbeing.
Lesotho is one on SADC Countries that has high female enrolment in education at all levels of learning, but this gap begins to narrow as a result of many challenges facing the girl child which include among the many early teenage pregnancy, early child forced marriages, lately high dropouts as a result of imposed COVID 19 lock downs, high failure drop rates, unfriendly learning environment for the learners with disabilities.
The participants to the launch include reps of the Secondary schools Principals school dropouts, children from CSOs and questions being discussed the reasons why learners dropout from schools some reason were those that children discussed on the Celebration of DAC as harmful practices that needed to abolished because of their negative impact.
The learners strongly talked of many policies developed but no enforcement, lack of learners’ participation in all decision-making process.
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration which is held every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries. According to the 26 August data of WBW website, 540 events have been held worldwide by more than 79 countries with 488 organizations and 406,620 participants for the World Breastfeeding Week 2010.
Organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, WBW came up with the goal to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields many health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development for the first time in 1991.
The ministry of education and training held a consultative dialogue in Maseru yesterday in preparing for the Transformation Education Summit (TES) of heads of State on Education to be held in New York in September 2022,
Speaking at the meeting, the CEO of primary education Thuto Ntṧekhe-Mosehle said Lesotho has embarked on national consultations to gather public opinions on how education can be reimagined and transformed to meet the demands of today’s world.
Nṧekhe-Mosehle revealed that the consultations started in June and will be completed in July, culminating in the production of a position paper that shall be presented by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro at the TES in September.
The summit aims to mobilize greater political ambition, commitment and action to reserve the side on SDG 4 (ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all), reimagine education, and accelerate progress on education and the 2030 Agenda.
“It is important to note that there is a global learning that is depriving hundreds of millions of children, young people, and adults of their right to quality education.
“This situation was further worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic which adversely affected learning thus threatening to turn this crisis into a generational catastrophe, especially for marginalized and vulnerable groups,” Ntṧekhe-Mosehle said.
Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010. However, other groups began celebrating Mandela Day on 18 July 2009.
On 27 April 2009, the 46664 concerts and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invited the global community to join them in support of an official Mandela Day. Mandela Day is not meant as a public holiday, but as a day to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former President, and his values, through volunteering and community service.
Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact.
The Mandela Day campaign message is: “Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.”
“We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring people together around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity,” according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf.
To mark the first global celebration of Mandela Day on 18 July 2009, Mandela’s 91st birthday, a series of educational, art exhibit, fund-raising and volunteer events leading up to a concert at Radio City Music Hall on 18 July were organised by the 46664 concerts and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formally declared 18 July to be “Nelson Mandela International Day”.
In 2014, the UN General Assembly established the Nelson Mandela Prize, a quinquennial award recognizing the achievements of those who dedicated their lives to the service of humanity.
The theme for Nelson Mandela International Day 2022 is “do what you can with what you have and where you are,” according to the United Nations
The fulfillment of children’s rights is a prerequisite to meeting the SDGs, and the SDGs are important drivers for the protection, respect and fulfillment of children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The 2030 Agenda recognises children as ‘agents of change’ and emphasizes the importance of their right to participate in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation and accountability processes. Children’s participation is hence critical for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda and for achieving sustainable development for all. Furthermore, the SDG monitoring and review processes at the national, regional and global levels provide States and civil society with a crucial opportunity to drive accountability for children and to ensure that their voices are included in policy decisions.
During this virtual event, you will hear from Member State Champions, civil society, and children themselves why it is necessary to include children across diverse backgrounds in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the opportunities presented for children’s participation and engagement in the SDG Follow-up and Review process. Children from Ethiopia and El Salvador will share their experiences in engaging in the 2022 VNR process in their respective countries, while Government representatives from Sweden and Zambia (TBC) will share reflections and lessons learned from engaging children in the development of prior year VNRs. You will also hear about the How To Child Rights series, its platform, and how you can get involved.
We must continue to strive for a world where every child grows up safe and secure, because every child – no matter where they grow up – has the right to be safe at home, at school, in their communities, and online. Though progress is happening, we are far from a tipping point. The fight for justice for children remains, and the level of commitment and investment is far from the scale of violence across the world – and the impact such violence has on children and communities. As practitioners, parents, friends, community members, faith leaders, policymakers, and researchers, we must act with urgency, and strengthen our movement to do more for children.
Collectively, we must work with and support each other’s efforts – and invest in the solutions that we know work. We need to push for stronger political will, strengthen data and evidence, and better inform policy, strategy, and investments across the world. We also need to work with one another to shift attitudes, change behaviors, and influence corporations and governments.
We must break the silence. Perhaps our fiercest enemy and our greatest shame is silence. The silence of the Neighbour who pretends she doesn’t hear the noises from next door; the silence of the young boy too terrified to speak out about the sexual abuse he is suffering at home; the silence preventing open dialogue between parents and their children on often taboo subjects; the silence of the teacher who does not ask about the bruises covering one of his pupils. This is a collective silence that must be broken for the sake of victims, survivors, and society.
CRNSA is the regional representative of national children’s rights networks in Southern Africa. We have been tasked with promoting practices and policies that fulfill children’s rights and welfare through national child rights networks across the sub-continent.
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