A Non Governmental Organization has stepped up a great campaign called “ Count Every Child ” to issue all children with birth certificates. Plan International-Kwale Program Unit has partnered with the department of civil registration to ensure that all children born in Kwale are registered accordingly.
Dubbed “Count Every Child”, the campaign aims at promoting birth registration as a right for all children. This will ease the challenge parents go through when their children are due to register for national exams both at primary and secondary levels. Since the introduction of Free Primary Education by the Narc government in 2003, the government put in place a policy that requires all candidates to present birth certificates before registering for national examinations.
The failure to register a child continues to present enormous challenges especially to KCPE and KCSE candidates in Kwale County. This effectively has hampered their education, healthcare and legal protection. Failure to register children at an early age may in future force the victims to bear the burden of proving their citizenship. Consequently, the right to participate in the electoral process may be taken away when they attain adulthood. They may also be barred from accessing employment, loans, opening bank accounts, registering business, joining welfare groups and participating in the development of their county.
According to Plan International Program Unit manager Mr. John Okandi Kogada birth registration is a fundamental right which if denied may present real obstacles to many children around the globe. “Birth registration is a fundamental right. Birth registration allows a child to more easily access social services such as education and health care, prove who and how old he is thus helping to protect against child labour and child marriage and also helping them to have national identity making it easier to fight abuse and child trafficking,” Said Okandi.
Speaking in Lutsangani location in Kinango sub-county during the handing over of birth certificates to registered pupils , Mr. Okandi indicated that the organization is aiming to promote birth registration at grassroots level to increase awareness and therefore demand for certificates and also create innovative programmes for registration that are effective and sustainable to reach even the most remote populations. He said that the organization will work with the government of Kenya to ensure every child get the right to be registered.
“Plan as a child centered organization will continue working with the government of Kenya to ensure that this right is provided to all children not only here in Kwale but across the country and also at the global level,” said Okandi.
Plan Kenya has supported infrastructure development to enable use of ICT for birth registration, equipment support for use of ICT, digitization of historical records for upgrade to an ICT data base and extensive community awareness on child rights and importance of birth registration. In the last three month the organization has been able to register over 5,000 children out of the targeted 20,000 children in Kenya.
Kinango officer of registration of Persons Lenard Maluvu said that ignorance among the parents has led to failure of child registration. “Lack of national identity cards among the parents is also a challenge as a child cannot be registered without the identity of both parents,” said Malavu.
He urged parents to register their children before they attain the age of six months to avoid challenges that come with late registration. The officer blamed illiteracy among the parents as a factor in delaying the process as many parents have no knowledge on what to do to ensure their children are registered.
Over 600 pupils from Tsunza, Dzivani, Chizini and Gandini primary schools were registered. Other beneficiaries included Ruwatech Academy and Tsunza secondary school