South African child law expert receives global award

July 1st, 2012
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By Nomfundo Manyathi

Director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, Professor Ann Skelton, received an honorary award from the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation at a ceremony in Sweden on 23 May 2012.

According to a press release by the foundation, Professor Skelton was commended for her 25-year-long ‘successful fight for the rights of children affected by the justice system’. She was lauded for the ‘groundbreaking work’ she had done for South Africa’s children, both in the court room and by changing laws affecting children. The prize winners were selected by a global vote by children.

The Centre for Child Law promotes and advances children’s rights in South Africa. The centre has been involved in precedent-setting cases, which have brought about changes in the law and in government activities. The centre contributes to establishing and promoting the best interests of children through education, research, advocacy and litigation.

In the press release, Professor Skelton said: ‘It is very special that children vote. I feel honoured by the fact that it is children who brought us here. I am also honoured that this prize is the fruit of an education for democracy, that this gives children the possibility to practise in a democratic process.’

Executive director and founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning, Sakena Yacoobi, also received an honorary award, while Anna Mollel from Tanzania was awarded the World’s Children’s Prize award, after receiving the most votes (2,5 million) from children in the global vote. She was awarded for her more than 20-year struggle for Maasai children with disabilities.

Ms Mollel and her organisation, Huduma ya Walemavu, help children with disabilities get a ‘chance to live a life in dignity’. They get medical care and an opportunity to attend school.

The World’s Children’s Prize is an educational programme for children, which aims to promote ‘a more humane world’. Fifty-eight thousand schools with 27 million students in 107 countries support the World’s Children’s Prize. Many of the participating children have had their rights violated and many learn that they have rights for the first time through the programme. Its patrons include Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Nomfundo Manyathi, nomfundo@derebus.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (July) DR 12.