Child’s Rights Education: The Foundation of Child Protection(1)

‘One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.’ Malala Yousafzai

Article 29 Convention of the Rights of the Child provides:  States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:  (a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;   (b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;  (c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own; (d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin; (e) The development of respect for the natural environment. 

I believe that the foregoing provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) focuses on teaching children their rights, responsibilities and the universal principles and values upon which both are built.

It is interesting that articles 29 of the Convention finds ample similarities in Section 20 of the Child’s Rights Act, earlier referred to in the previous chapter. Section 20 provides:  ‘Every parent, guardian, institution, person and authority responsible for the care, maintenance, upbringing, education, training, socialization, employment and rehabilitation of a child has the duty to provide the necessary guidance, discipline, education and training for he child in his or its care such as will equip the child to secure his assimilation, appreciation and observance of the responsibilities set out in this Part of the Act.’

I believe that apart from the fact that the foregoing provisions instruct primary and secondary custodians to  agree to teach children their responsibilities under that the law, I think the provisions agrees with my submission under the CREED that children must be empowered to be active participants in their protection.  

I think one way to describe enlightening children to be alive to their responsibilities and be a major stakeholder in their own protection is child participation. 

What is child participation? According to a recent report by UNICEF, “Child participation involves encouraging and enabling children to make their views known on the issues that affect them. Put into practice, participation is adults listening to children — to their entire multiple and varied ways of communicating. It ensures their freedom to express themselves and takes their views into account when coming to decisions that affect them. Engaging children in dialogue and exchange allows them to learn constructive ways of influencing the world around them. (See www. Unicef.org)

Child Participation, which formed the theme of ‘THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2003’ report of the UNICEF, was the resolution of the United Nations’ General Assembly Special Session on Children, held in May 2002, where for the first time, the General Assembly met to discuss exclusively Children’s issues. One significant feature of that Session was that for the first time ever, “Children were present as members of 142 national delegations and 106 non-governmental delegations.  More than 400 children, aged 8 to 18, also met in a three-day Children’s Forum prior to the Special Session and produced their own declaration…” (See www. unicef.org)

Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations (as he then was) commented on the General Assembly Special Session as follows: “The children’s presence transformed the atmosphere of the United Nations. Into our usually measured and diplomatic discussions, they introduced their passions, questions, fears, challenges, enthusiasm and optimism. They brought us their ideas, hopes and dreams. They gave life to the values of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And they contributed something only they could know: the experience of being young in the 21st century – in a time when HIV/AIDS continues to grow at a devastating rate; in a time when unprecedented wealth coexists with extreme poverty; in a time when the rights of children, while almost universally recognized, are abused systematically and daily throughout the world.” (Forward to ‘THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2003’ of UNICEF)

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

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