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2 December 2019 - Story

Debating child rights

Children from the debate club

It's 30 years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) came into existence. There has been a lot of progress in Uganda since then but there is a lot still to do.

In particular, the CRC guarantees children’s right to express their views - and have those views listened to and taken into account by decision makers. Across Uganda we organise debate clubs and competitions in schools to help raise awareness of children’s rights and increase children’s confidence to speak out.

These are some of the members of the debate clubs in Arua in northern Uganda...

John, 14

“When someone defeats me, I say ‘never give up’. Next time I will win. In debating, if someone else is the best I never give up until I am the best. Debating trains me not to fear speaking in public and not to fear people’s faces. I will be a Member of Parliament and develop my area. Debating is good for being an MP. I would love to finish school.”

John, 14

Simon, 13

“I learned English through debating. I want to become the president of South Sudan. I will promote children's rights and I will help those who are disabled. And I will help our mothers who have given birth to us. I will help people, with medicine to see or to move well or to hear better. I have a hearing disability so I cannot hear everything.

“In South Sudan many people were killed, including my father. My friend was killed. So we ran to Uganda. I felt happy. I felt safe. I feel sad when I think about my father. I go to play at the CFS (Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space) to feel happy."

Annet, 15

"In the debates I learned how to speak English. One topic was that the coming of refugees has done more good than bad to the environment. I said when the refugees were not here, there were no roads constructed."

Patrick, 12

“I like debating. There are so many topics. If I could be leader I would provide opportunities for all. Schools and hospitals would be constructed.  I want to be a President. Or I will become a Bishop – I will move to a church and tell happy stories to make people happy. My best friend is called Akule – sometimes he draws funny pictures and we laugh together. You need friends to help each other. I help my friends by sharing things – what they don’t have, I give. Kindness is the most important value, and to be hardworking. If all people were like this it would be good.”

Elizabeth, 10

“I learn more words through debating. We learn about the rights children should enjoy. I want to be a doctor and treat people.”

Martha, 15

"There was a time I did not go to school for three days. I missed school! I want to become a teacher of young children. I will teach them how to draw pictures. I learned how to speak English in debating. I like to give a good performance."

Maria, 13

"In our debates we learned to be responsible. I learned about the right to food!"

Evelyn, 13

"I want to be a lawyer and judge children's cases, like child neglect. I want to change things. When children are on the street I will open an orphanage for them. The orphanage will look like a palace. I will help 1,000 children!"