The Second Annual Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Child Protection was held at the British Council Auditorium in Accra on 27th November 2018, as part of Participatory Development Associates’ (PDA) strategic themes for 2016-2021. The purpose of the workshop was to provide an environment to share and discuss preliminary findings of a draft Report on the State of Child Protection in Ghana. The event, which brought together a total of 101 participants from government agencies, development organisations, the media and the general public, also featured discussions on a UNICEF supported assessment on The Most Significant Change (MSC) Stories on Child Protection in Ghana. This aided the appreciation of project interventions on child protection across the country.
The workshop commenced with a welcome address delivered by Mr Tony Dogbe, a co-founder and Principal Consultant at PDA. His address captured the importance of evidence-based research for policy discourse and the need for non-state actors to collaborate more in their bid to augment state efforts in the child protection space. The address was followed by a statement from the Department of Children which was delivered by Mrs. Abena A. BaduAboagye, a senior staff at the department. Her statement focused on the state of child protection and touted the efforts of the government, through laws, policies and its agencies, to ensure the welfare and protection of every child.
Turning to the private sector, she noted that the milestones chalked were through efforts by both state and non-state actors, adding that such efforts needed to be sustained if not intensified.This year’s workshop was divided into two sessions. The first session entailed three presentations and a panel discussion on Juvenile Justice in Ghana. The first presentation on Children, Streetism and the Begging Economy assessed the plight of children living and working on the streets of Ghana’s cities, the institutional provisions for their welfare and protection, as well as how these are implemented. This was followed by a presentation on Child Labour, Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery which featured stories of victims of child trafficking, their ordeals and the rescue efforts to secure their freedom.
The presentations were complimented by a facilitated discussion which explored the drivers of juvenile offending, the adequacy of the Juvenile Justice Act 2003 (Act 653) and related policies, and the efficiency of state institutions responsible for juvenile justice. The session concluded with a presentation on a UNICEF supported assessment on The Most Significant Change (MSC) Stories on Child Protection in Ghana – a compilation of people’s experiences on project interventions in order to assess the impact of the interventions and identify avenues for improvement.The second session featured two panel discussions and a presentation on the protection of the working child. The first panel discussion, on the history of child protection in Ghana, assessed the traditional systems of child protection dating back to the colonial era, and the values of altruism and reciprocity that informed these practices as well as the utility of incorporating aspects of this system into the contemporary formal child protection structure.
The second panel discussion on child online protection in Ghana noted the hazards children are exposed to online, including the risk of sexual abuse and hate speech. The discussions further recognized the efforts of the government to adopt a framework and policy on child online protection that shall guide the efforts of state and non-state actors in the area. The session concluded with a presentation on a study that explored the plight of working children in rural and urban areas, and the protection of these children. Noting the restrictions placed by the Children’s Act on child work, the study highlighted the fact that economic realities had driven children of school going age to fend for themselves or assist parents in doing so, and called on state institutions, particularly law enforcement to adopt a child friendly approach towards such children. Participants recognized implementation as the most pressing challenge of child protection. Acknowledging that the legal and policy frameworks provided a sound foundation, participants agreed that efforts towards law enforcement and policy implementation needed to be intensified