There are various ministries in Ghana in charge of child welfare. In Ghana, child maintenance is recognized as a mandatory parental obligation enforced by the Department of Social Welfare and the Court through social workers. Still, the government is supposed to step in when parents are incapacitated to provide for the child. There are various ministries in charge of child welfare in Ghana, but their impact is not felt as children’s welfare seems to be less of a priority. Studies have attributed these to limited funds, but that cannot be entirely through as the welfare of children is not highlighted strongly in the government’s annual budget review.
Walking through the capital city of Ghana, Accra, and seeing numerous children begging on the highways speaks volumes of the importance given to children’s welfare in Ghana. Going to villages and seeing children walking naked with no or little education is saddening. Visiting orphanages and seeing the children to caretaker ratio gap sounds a great alarm that all is not well with the welfare of children in Ghana.
Ghana prides itself as the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) and has signed or ratified most major international instruments relating to child protection and has made progress in realizing the rights of children in the areas of health (almost universal immunization), education (improved literacy rates) and child protection (improved birth registration). However, statistics reveal that progress has been too slow, uneven and fragmented to make a genuine breakthrough in the child protection field.
The government is responsible for organizing the redistribution of the goods necessary to satisfy all society members’ basic needs or the money to purchase these goods—hence, the social welfare system for children and the vulnerable in society. I am proud, but sorry to say Ghana has the best policies and diverse ministries assigned to protect the welfare of children. Still, until the various ministries in charge of children’s welfare ensure these policies are fully implemented to the letter, the welfare of children will keep deteriorating each day. In my next post, I will share Ghana’s various child welfare policies.
Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection: The Department of Social Development, under this Ministry, is responsible for providing several services for children under the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560). The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) was created by Executive Instrument 1 (E.I. 1) in January 2013 as a successor to the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs. The primary objective of its establishment was to have a Ministry responsible for policy formulation, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation of Gender, Children, and Social Protection issues within the context of the national development agenda.
This will lead to the achievement of gender equality, equity, and the empowerment of women and girls, promoting children’s survival and development, thus ensuring their rights. It will also ensure harmonizing social protection interventions better to target the vulnerable, excluded, and persons with disability and integrate fulfillment of their rights, empowerment, and full participation into national development.
Ministry of Interior: The Ghana Police Service and Prison Service provide various justice for children-related services that fall under this Ministry.
Section 13 of the Civil Service Act 1993 (PNDCL 327) states the following:
“A Ministry shall: Initiate and formulate policies, taking into account the needs and aspirations of the people; Undertake development planning in consultation with the National Development Planning Commission; and Co-ordinate, monitor, and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector’s performance.”
Based on the above framework, the Ministry of the Interior performs the following specific functions:
- Initiate and formulate internal security policies considering the needs and aspirations of the people.
- Coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector’s performance.
- Develop and periodically review appropriate regulations, standards, and guidelines to control and ensure effective performance of the sector.
- Promote the use of modern management practices, systems, and procedures to ensure effective performance of the sector.
- Promote innovation and Information Technology and information systems applications and e-service platforms.
- Undertake research and development, training, and capacity building to enhance the sector’s performance.
- Develop effective resource mobilization strategies and schemes to support the sector’s operations.
- Build and maintain effective networks and collaborations with international and local stakeholders, MDAs/MMDAs to support and enhance the sector’s performance.
- Develop and establish a framework for assessing, adopting, ratifying, and applying international protocols, conventions, treaties, charters, etc., relevant to the sector.
- Provide strategic policy and regulatory support to the operations of the sector.
- Promote Ghana as a secure, peaceful, and investor-friendly nation.
Ministry of Local Government, decentralization and Rural Development: The Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and Births and Deaths Registry are under this Ministry and play various roles that impact justice for children.
The Ministry of Local Government, decentralization and Rural Development (MLGDRD), exists to deepen decentralized governance and improve access to services at the sub-national level through the formulation of policies, programmes, and projects and monitoring and evaluation of their implementation using professional staff and appropriate technology. These core functions constitute the work of the Ministry’s Departments and Agencies. The following are the departments and agencies in the sector;
- Department of Community Development
- Births and Deaths Registry
- Department of Parks and Gardens
- Office of the Head of Local Government Service (OHLGS)
- Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS)
- Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralization (IMCCoD)
- Office of the Administrator of District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF)
The Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development and its Departments and Agencies belong to the Central Management Agencies category of Government Machinery, whose mandate, among others, is to ensure good governance and balanced development of Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies, in line with the Civil Service Act, 1993 (PNDCL 327). The functions of the Ministry are as follows:
- Initiate and formulate policies on Local Governance, Decentralisation, Rural, and Urban Development
- Initiate and develop policies and guidelines on the acquisition and use of human and financial resources in Assemblies
- Strengthen the coordinating functions of administrative regions in Ghana; · Ensure rapid socio-economic development of newly created regions.
- Coordinate, monitor, and evaluate. The implementation of local government sector policies and programmes
- Initiate the review/promulgation of legislation and regulations on local governance, decentralization, rural and urban development
- Develop human resource policies to promote professionalism and productivity within the sector
- Promote participation of civil society in administration and development on matters relating to local governance;
Ministry of Justice and Attorney Generals Department: This Ministry has under it the Attorney Generals Department and Legal Aid Scheme that have a role to play within the existing justice for children system. The Attorney General’s Department came into being in 1877. It first started as the office of the Judicial Assessor, who was the Principal Legal Advisor to the Executive Council established in 1850 for the administration of the Gold Coast Colony. Then with the promulgation of the first Supreme Court Ordinance in 1876, which provided the framework for the administration of justice in the Colony, the office of the Judicial Assessor was abolished and replaced with the Queen’s Advocate Office. More about this ministry can be found here.
Ministry of Health: In Accra, specialized services are available for child victims through the specialized units for abused children at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital and the Police Hospital.
Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ): CHRAJ is an independent constitutional body with offices in all ten regionals and an office in 100 districts and helps resolve disputes relating to children’s rights. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice [CHRAJ] was established under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana by the CHRAJ Act 1993 [Act 456]. It has three (3) broad mandates: human rights, administrative justice, and anti-corruption. CHRAJ is:
- The National Human Rights Institution of Ghana;
- The Ombudsman of Ghana; and
- An Anti-Corruption Agency and Ethics Office for the Public Service of Ghana.
As the National Human Rights Institution of Ghana, the Commission must promote and protect fundamental human rights and freedoms in Ghana. As the Ombudsman of Ghana, the Commission promotes administrative justice in public administration and secures improvement in public sector service delivery in Ghana. Under this Mandate, the Commission investigates complaints about how public institutions and their staff perform their everyday executive and administrative functions.
The Commission is also one of the State agencies with the power to promote integrity in public service and combat corruption in Ghana. The Commission promotes high ethics and integrity in Public Service and enforces compliance with the ethical standards of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. Every person who comes before the Commission is given every opportunity to present their case through a fair, just, and transparent process. In addition, you will find that the Commissions:
- Services are free, empowering, user-friendly, and accessible to all.
- Investigations and complaints resolution mechanisms are efficient and expeditious
Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs: Throughout the country, minor cases of child maltreatment, custody and maintenance disputes, and juvenile offending are often handled informally at the family level or through interventions of Traditional Authorities, including Chiefs, Queen Mothers, religious leaders, family heads or Assembly members. General reluctance to report children’s cases to government authorities exists in some communities within specific regions in Ghana. The key institutions at the community level address justice for children issues at their levels and have challenges.
The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs (MCRA) has the constitutional mandate to develop an effective interface between the Government, Religious Bodies, and Civil Society on matters relating to Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs for the promotion of peace and good governance. MCRA is also to operate as the primary and apex body to initiate and formulate appropriate policies for the Chieftaincy and Religious sectors of the country.
The Ministry aims to preserve, sustain and integrate the regal, traditional, and religious values, norms, and practices for national development. Core values underpin the Ministry’s work include Sovereignty of Traditional Values, Peaceful Religious and Traditional Coexistence, Cultural Diversity, Tolerance, and Unity.
Ministry of Education (MoE)
The Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ghana Education Services (GES) should:
promote universal, quality primary education, especially for vulnerable
reform curriculum to reflect child protection issues
build capacity of teachers and promote guidance and counselling in all
put measures in place to identify, prevent and address child protection issues
in educational institutions
Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations (MoELR)
The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MoELR) should:
ensure that programmes, strategies and approaches addressing child labour are aligned with the various child policies in Ghana.
The full list of rights for children and young people under the age of 18 is set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most accepted standard on children’s rights in the world. Ireland committed to promote children’s rights when it signed up to the Convention in 1992.
Children’s rights include the right to health, education, family life, play and recreation, an adequate standard of living and to be protected from abuse and harm. Children’s rights cover their developmental and age-appropriate needs that change over time as a child grows up.
All Ghana’s children have the right to be protected from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect by anyone in their lives – whether parents, teachers, friends, partners or strangers. These various violations undermine children’s confidence and hinder their development.