The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) officials last week met with the Parliamentary Social Cluster Committee to discuss ways of strengthening cooperation and push for government to prioritise children’s issues.
In an interview, the UNICEF Representative in Lesotho, Tesfaye Shiferaw said as an organisation that focuses on the improvement of children in the areas of education, health, nutrition and social protection, it was important to meet with the committee.
“We are aware that the parliamentary committee has the power to push for child-related policies and laws that can help address challenges children face and also ensure an improved budget allocation for the welfare of children,” Dr Shiferaw said.
“Because the committee also works closely with various ministries, which include Education and Training, Social Development and Health, we were able to comprehensively discuss the key challenges that affect the welfare of children in various areas.”
During the meeting, Dr Shiferaw told the committee of the achievements UNICEF has made while working with government over recent years.
“We were able to support about 60 000 children, in more than 20 000 households, with grants and assisted 40 percent of children to access early childhood education,” he said.
Still in the area of education, UNICEF also helped to improve the quality of education by building the capacity of teachers and providing several schools with essential learning equipment.
However, Dr Shiferaw said UNICEF is concerned that many boys in some parts of the country are still not attending school.
“Despite our efforts, there are still problems related to access to education,” he added.
“We have noticed that more girls than boys are attending school.”
“Boys, particularly from the highlands, are still herding livestock, instead of going to school,” Dr Shiferaw said.
A member of the committee, Majoro Mohapi, said the Social Cluster would meet again to discuss issues presented by the UNICEF representatives.
“Our work includes liaising with relevant ministries responsible for children’s welfare and lobbying them to remain focused on the objectives of the government,” Mr Mohapi said.
“Following our meeting today, we will look at issues brought before us and come up with strategies on how to tackle areas that need improvement.”
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