The unsightly presence of children selling in the streets, dodging between moving vehicles to hawk cold water or biscuits, is indeed troubling, especially when these children who are supposed to the future leaders of Liberia are not in school.
The issue has finally caught the attention of the Liberian government, to the extent that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) is now partnering with the Monrovia City Cooperation (MCC) to remove children involved in street selling from the streets, especially during school hours.
Monrovia City Corporation Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo has warned that government will not only prosecute parents and guardians who send their children on the streets to sell, but even commuters who purchase from these school-age street children will be arrested and fined.
She disclosed that the exercise, which initially covered the Christmas season, will remain in force until the government’s goal of removing school-age children from the streets to the classroom is achieved.
We sincerely believe that the current exercise to rid the streets of school-age children, though somehow belated, is a welcoming development. It is utterly wicked for parents and guardians who keep their own offspring in school, but risk the lives and future of other people’s children that live with them.
It is understandable, however, the fact that most parents even risk sending their own children in the streets to sell during school hours because they don’t have the money to keep their kids in schools or even feed them, thus everyone becomes breadwinners.
In our candid view, the approach to ridding our streets of school-age children should be holistic. The Ministry of Gender needs to work with the necessary government agencies, local non-governmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations, to institute sustainable programs that will empower most impoverished households in vulnerable communities in Monrovia and around the country.
Using the law on parents and guardians as a means of keeping the kids off the streets is a stopgap measure that will only become sustaining if practical programs are put in place to encourage parents to keep their children in school instead of risking their lives, zigzagging between moving vehicles just to sell a few sachets of cold water.