Interview with a World At School Youth Ambassador and Child Rights Activist

With Rohey Jadama
Welcome to yet another edition of Children’s Corner. In today’s edition, we are goingaa to feature the interview we had with Ms. Salimatou Fatty, a World At School Global Youth Ambassador, Child Rights, Youth and Gender Activist. She will be talking about issues on child rights and child labour and the challenges children face in her community.Children’s Corner: Could you kindly give a brief personal background to our esteemed readers?
Ms. Fatty: I am Salimatou Fatty, an activist who is very passionate about advocating for human rights. I am currently studying Gender and Development at Management Development Institute (MDI). Last year, I was nominated as A World At School Global Youth Ambassador by the International World at School Organization, an international organization that puts pressure on governments demanding a better education for children. I was part of several international campaigns under A World at School Organization supervision. Basically, my main areas of focus are education and the achievements in gender equality.
Children’s Corner: You have dedicated your life to child rights. What is the motivation behind this commitment?
Ms. Fatty: Yes, I have dedicated my life to child rights because I believe in something positive. Children are not only the future leaders but are also the present leaders. So they need to be well educated to bring up the change the world needs and to teach the younger ones about how we can tolerate and accept each other in order to ensure a better world for all.
Children’s Corner: Moving on to another key dimension. What are some of the challenges that children face in your community and its surrounding.
Ms. Fatty: One of the biggest challenges faced by the children in my society are the lack of school materials as some kids are deprive the opportunity of going to school either because of early marriage or economic operators selling in the streets in order to support their families. The government, however, is also making efforts towards ensuring that children go to school.
Children’s Corner: According to research, child labor does exist in the Gambia. What is your take on that?
Ms. Fatty: Of course, there is child labor in the Gambia but which we are silence about. One of the most common is child apprenticeship. These children should have been going to school but because of certain factors including economic, they are being trained in workshops, engaged in petty trading. Efforts have to be made to help these children to also go to school so as to develop their capacities fully. I’ll take myself as an example. When I was a child in primary school, I used to assist my mother by selling in the streets for the family to supplement the income for our survival. My mother was a widow who had a family to feed but this need did not disturb my education. I was only engaged to sell after school.
Children’s Corner: My final question is to know about your plans regarding your work. What do you already have or plans to engage in with regards to advocacy?
Ms. Fatty: One of the major plans on my agenda is to initiate a project that will work towards supporting children with school materials and to help eradicate and promote gender equality in our society. As it is my wish for the Gambia to be among the leading countries in the world in terms of achievements in gender equality issues since no country is yet to achieve this which is the MDG3. I would also like to appeal to the government to enact and enforce laws on child labour in Gambia.
I acknowledged the efforts being made towards providing free education but it should be also noted that a lot of children are still missing out in their education because of the lack of adequate and relevant educational materials such as school books, uniforms, etc and which I would want the government to look into.
With regards to early marriage, I also want to join the other child rights advocates to lobby for a minimum age for marriage. This will allow many girls to complete their secondary education.
Children’s Corner: Thank you for granting us an interview
Ms. Fatty: The pleasure is mine.