Following his fall from cabinet last year, former Local Government and Rural Development minister, Peter Siele declared that he has received an assignment thatôis dearest to my heart.ö
An upbeat Siele was yesterday unveiled as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) advocacy champion.
After the launch, Siele told Mmegi said his focus would be fighting teenage pregnancies and absent fathers since ‘these are depressing matters’.
“My priority areas would be issues of teenage pregnancy and absent fathers. These matters cannot be left solely to government to tackle,” said the Botswana Democratic Party former Member of Parliament for the re-named Mmathethe-Molapowabojang.
The year-long partnership, subject to renewal, is expected to tap into his experience and knowledge of issues in the children rights to advance deeper understanding of concepts of the rights and implementation of legal instruments on these rights at community level.
Siele, who referred to the unacceptably high number of 78 girls who dropped out of Mmadinare and Matshekge Senior Secondary Schools, said such problems bred a cycle of generational poverty and other social ills.
“It is very depressing for these young girls to get into such situations, as they become parents before they are even adults,” Siele lamented.
Consequently, their offspring would be sent out to be cared for by their grandparents with very limited resources, he added.
He further said it was disheartening to see children whose fathers were absent, but were alive and enjoying life to the full.
To address the priority areas, and many others that engulfed the children,Siele has designed a collaborative schedule that includes traditional leadership, community leaders, as well as to
As requested by the law, he said, these would help address the prevalent child delinquency and HIV/AIDS in addition to teenage pregnancy and run-away fathers.
According to Siele, a lot of work has to be done in the Kgalagadi, Northwest, Chobe and Gantsi Districts.
Also present at the launch was chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi Kgosi Puso Gaborone, who pledged the Bogosi institution to upholding children’s rights.
He said collaboration with traditional leadership in this issue was critical because part of their role is to protect their communities, whom children are part of.
Gaborone told Mmegi that Dikgosi did not view children’s rights as a source of wayward behaviour among today’s youngsters. The real problem on parenting, he argued, was the disruption of the family set-up, which traditionally consisted of both father and mother.
He said, hence most families were headed by single mothers, which posed challenges that manifested in children’s behaviour.
Regarding some culturally rooted violations of children’s rights, like child marriages, Gaborone said a national dialogue was urgently needed.
“Culture is changing. We need to look at what is best for the child and the country.
Therefore, we need that dialogue to better understand diverse and differing cultures that impact on the right of the children,” he said.
He said there was need for capacity-building within the Bogosi institution in order to better address the issue.