Protection and inclusion of children
We work with partners to ensure the protection of the rights of all children, especially the most vulnerable.
UNICEF The Gambia is committed to providing for all children a fair chance to realize their full potential. Children deprived of a fair start in life often never catch up and the gaps grow only wider with time and age. This has consequences on numerous aspects of their life, including health, education, development, and later in life their adjustment as productive adults. Poverty can be a main factor affecting abilities to attend school, capacity to learn, as well as child marriage. Disability is another hindering factor affecting integration and outcomes in life. This ensemble of elements reinforces inequalities, and affect the general growth of the country, and perpetuate the poverty cycle.
Children across The Gambia continue to be at risk of violence and harm due to deeply-rooted traditional practices that normalize female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, child labor and corporal punishment. At least 34.2 per cent of young women are married before age 18 and 50.6% of girls between the ages 0-14 have undergone FGM. The number of children subjected to child labor also remains high at 27.4 per cent.
Although some progress has been noted in the enrolment of children in primary school from 63 per cent in 2010, to 78 per cent in 2018, serious issues remain in relation to retention. 65.5 per cent of children finish primary school and out of these, 45.8 per cent reach lower secondary and only 29.2 per cent have a chance to upper secondary school. Almost 20 per cent of school age children are out of school all together.
According to the World Bank, children in Gambia achieve only 40 per cent of their full potential. The situation is mainly due to the high level of poverty, leading to inadequate access to basic health and educational services. The Gambia is ranked 130th out of 157 countries in the 2018 World Bank Human Capital Index.
The Protection and Inclusion of Children (PIC) Programme aims to provide support to the Gambian Government in strengthening interactive systems to address issues related to Child Protection, Education and Social Protection.
The Child Protection System aims at creating an environment where children are protected from all types of violence, abuse and exploitation. It relies heavily on capacity building at national and regional levels, with a strong involvement of community structures throughout the country. A key point of this effort is the Case Management System that helps identify and resolve cases of child protection and contributes to data collection that feeds interventions and strategies.
Our support in the area of Education aims at achieving the education policy goals, and an inclusive education system which is equipped to provide comprehensive early childhood education to all children, in conjunction with health, nutrition and protection interventions, and to ensure the rights of all children to an appropriate quality education.
We support policies and strategies on preschool education, supported by adequate data and budgetary support; review and revision of existing Early Childhood Development Programme; training of preschool facilitators and caregivers; parenting education and family support Programme; and the integration of preschool with interventions, including stimulation practices, in health, nutrition and protection at community level.
Our support in the area of Social protection aims at strengthening the Social Protection System in collaboration with other key stakeholders including the World Bank. We support the development and implementation of a Social Protection Secretariat that coordinates all activities related to Social protection. We advocate for all Social Protection Programming to take into consideration children as one of the most vulnerable elements of society. We work closely with government and the National Assembly to support increasing budgeting for children in all aspects of intervention from Child protection, Education, and Health
Most importantly, the Protection and Inclusion of Children aims at ensuring a harmonization of interventions among the three components, through integrated programming with the section and with other sections. As the child is one entity, all programmes must touch each other and connect the dots for better efficiency. For example, the mainstreaming of child protection in the school system contains strong elements of WASH, environment and Social protection, with the aim to improve enrolment, retention and quality of education for all children. The support to Children on The Move is more effective without a strong component of Education, Health, psychosocial support and social protection. Powered by the desire of leaving no child behind, Protection and Inclusion of Children targets the most vulnerable children through a series of interconnected and complementary programs.
We work towards an inclusive education system where the rights of all children, particularly out-of-school children and children in need of special protection, are guaranteed.
We support the Government of The Gambia and partners to establish and maintain a strong child protection system that caters for the basic rights of every child, everywhere in the country.
Our social protection programme focuses on systems strengthening, support to programming and advocacy for public finance to ensure a fair chance at survival for every child.