Efforts were made to mainstream children issues during the preparation of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2010-2015, these included special needs education, juvenile justice and child labour.
By Grace Kobusingye
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights which demands treatment of children as human beings with a distinct set of rights and need special care. It is underpinned by other human rights treaties and protocols that elaborate and extend these rights.
However, much as the Government has domesticated a number of regional instruments and frameworks on the rights of the child in to national laws, Uganda still faces a challenge in light of the varied violations and abuse that they are often exposed to.
Efforts were made to mainstream children issues during the preparation of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2010-2015, these included special needs education, juvenile justice and child labour. Though they are relevant, the implementation of most has been weak because of Government's inability to commit adequate resources.
Most sectors and programmes of child protection are embedded within broader budget categories and scattered across a number of agencies which has remained a challenge. For example, the 2015/16 showed that some of the top priorities of Government are Works and Transport with 17%, Education with 14%, Energy and Mineral Development with 6% and Health with 7%. Yes, these sectors affect children protection but their share is almost 0.1% which implies that child benefit is too little from the national budget.
The Government started implementing key programmes like Universal Primary Education (UPE) and has over and again made commitments on allocations and investing in children but this has remained low. There is need for budget transparency, publishing audit reports regularly, disseminating information that is discussed in the legislature, and providing significant information of all budget documents at a point of need such that empowerment is effective.
In some instances, changing existing laws or creating new ones should be involved such that legislative changes are not imposed, but come through the same process by which any law is created or reformed within a country.
It is imperative to support the development of policies; legislatives frame works, institutions, budget mechanism and service delivery that promote norms, services and protection for children.
Consequently, children all over the world are not having their basic rights fulfilled often with disastrous consequences. For example, in countries with high levels of corruption, child mortality rates are higher than in countries with little corruption. Civil society organizations are called upon to hold Governments accountable, advocate with and for children an impact on public opinion.
However, various institutions like the National Child Protection Working Group (NCPWG), Local Government Child Focused structures among others have been brought on board in Uganda to enforce the provisions of laws set up to protect children and to promote their participation in policy making processes at all levels but they are not functioning to the fullest due to the limited budget resources directed to them.
The Government is obliged to take all available measures to make sure children's rights are respected, protected and fulfilled thus undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of their rights.
It is against this background that, in the budgetary process, a policy framework that mainstreams children's issues and promote the awareness of budgeting for children should be considered, appropriate monitoring, transparency and accountability initiatives to be put in place and Government should increase allocations to child oriented sectors while ensuring that the above mentioned programmes do not overlap children's needs since these children are the leaders of tomorrow.
The Government is then obliged to take necessary steps to ensure that the minimum standards set by the convention in these areas are being met. They ought to help families protect children's rights and create an environment where they can grow and reach their potential.
The writer works with Uganda Debt Network