Family is an integral part of the socialisation of an individual. In most African communities, a lot of importance is placed on the family. In most African countries a family consists of  a mother and father and their biological children, given that the parents are together (nuclear family). In most rural areas we still have a big family setups, which include the extended family living with the nuclear family. We also have different family setups depending on the circumstances that individuals find themselves in.

In celebrating families today we look at how they aid education and well-being as informed by this year’s theme- “Families, education and well-being.”

According to the United Nations, This year’s observance of the day of families focuses on their role and policies in promoting education and well-being of their members. This day seeks to raise awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth. It also aims to discuss the importance of “knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development” as stated by (SDG 4. 7).

On Education 

The targets for the continent based on the sustainable development goals are that, by 2030, all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. Girls and boys should have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education. The figures show that enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million children remain out of school and more than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.

A family from Basankusu in front of a typical fired-brick, palm thatched house. Photo: Francis Hannaway

Families that have prioritised the education of their children have managed to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. While the financial challenges of taking children to school is known to exist in developing communities, there are some issues which can be dealt with by families to reduce the number of children who are out of school. These include equal treatment of boys and girls, reducing the burden of care work on girls as well as refusing to take part in cultural practises and norms (child marriages, genital mutilation) that may act as a hinderance to accessing education.

On well-being

The UN reports that, ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development. By 2030 we hope to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases while targeting a reduction in the global maternal mortality ratio and end end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age.

Governments in most developing countries have the obligation to ensure citizens have access to affordable and up to standard health care, this will go a long way in achieving the goals mentioned above. However, families have an obligation to make use of the existing health facilities to ensure the well-being of their loved ones. Many African public health centres are giving free health care to pregnant women and this should be utilised by families to ensure they give birth to healthy children who can be the leaders of the next generation. HIV positive women should use the mechanisms in place that will ensure they give birth to HIV negative children so that an Aids free generation is possible.