Stopping exclusion from education, one birth certificate at a time

Togo
Andrew Francis

The births of a quarter of the global population of children under five have never been registered (UNICEF, 2019)

Have you ever even thought of the possibility of not having a birth certificate? A legal document which is so easy for us to obtain, it’s difficult to imagine not owning one. Think of all the times you’ve needed your birth certificate; it’s an essential part of signing up for a school place, taking national exams, gaining access to college/university, getting a job, access to healthcare and so much more. It’s almost impossible to gain access to any of these without a birth certificate.

This is no different for children in Togo. Though they may have access to primary education, they cannot enter state exams and move on in their studies without a birth certificate, which many cannot afford to buy. This results in many children having to earn money through selling items to drivers through car windows, and many continue this for the rest of their lives, living in poverty and unable to break out of the cycle.

Not only this, but a birth certificate offers a base of protection. Without the ability to prove their age, a child can be forced into labour and/or marriages before the legal age.

“Of all infants living in sub-Saharan Africa, slightly less than 2 in 3 (just over 20 million) do not have their births registered, and around 3 in 4 (roughly 28 million) do not possess a birth certificate.” (UNICEF, A Snapshot of Civil Registration in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2017)

CRY believes in a world where all children and young people are able to fulfil their God-given potential. To do this we must protect, love and provide opportunities for them. Birth certificates cost around £30 per child, and there are hundreds of children in Lome as well as villages outside of the city who cannot afford to purchase one.

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