Youth rights debated

2016-10-19 06:00
MEC for Social Development Limakatso Mahasa with representatives of the department and the sponsor as well as the two Free State learners who participated in the children’s parliament debate in North West. From the left are Lucy Mapena (chairperson of the social cluster), Khutso Moleleki, Mahasa, Mahlomola Tau (Transnet Foundation) and Nunu Serepong. Photo: Teboho Setena

MEC for Social Development Limakatso Mahasa with representatives of the department and the sponsor as well as the two Free State learners who participated in the children’s parliament debate in North West. From the left are Lucy Mapena (chairperson of the social cluster), Khutso Moleleki, Mahasa, Mahlomola Tau (Transnet Foundation) and Nunu Serepong. Photo: Teboho Setena

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WHILE their peers enjoyed the holiday, a group of 20 learners from selected high schools in the Free State embarked on a journey to advocate for children’s rights and protection. They participated in this year’s Children’s Parliament held over three days (5 to 7 October) at the North West Legislature in Mmabatho.

This year’s theme was “Claiming Our Right to Safety and Protection”. The debate is held annually as a flagship initiative of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

The Free State’s Department of Social Development selected the learners from a range of schools in towns such as Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu, Qwaqwa, Zastron, Bultfontein and Bloemfontein.

In line with a children’s rights campaign, they raised a range of social issues affecting them both at home and at school in the presence of the new MEC for Social Development, Limakatso Mahasa.

Khutso Moleleki (15) from Botshabelo’s Setjhaba Se Maketse school mentioned corporal punishment at schools, forced marriage of girls and teenage pregnancy as some of the issues affecting and destroying the future of children in South Africa and around the globe.

“The government together with principals of schools should take action against wrong activities of children and evaluate these problems experienced by the learners,” said Moleleki. The teenager warned his peers to avoid teenage pregnancy, saying it is destroying and demoralizing. “Both high and primary schools learners become victims of teenage pregnancy because of their involvement with older men. It is us who must stand up against it,” said Moleleki.

Nunu Serepong from Tsoseletso School encouraged her peers to put first things first, which is education, and to participate actively in educational programmes.

MEC Mahasa appeared very impressed by the enthusiasm of these potential future leaders. Addressing them on the mission of Children’s Parliament, she encouraged them to uphold good morals and bear in mind that they are ambassadors for children’s rights and protection in the Free State.

“The journey is shaping you as future leaders. You are exposed as young leaders to what parliament deals with to carve the future of this country,” said Mahasa.

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