Barbadian children are being advised against squandering the opportunities they have for a good education and the right to be heard.
In fact, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Senator Harry Husbands said the children should be thankful for these rights and privileges, which he said some took for granted.
“I am of the view that amidst all the challenges that we have today in Barbados and around the world . . . we still need to be extremely thankful,” Husbands said yesterday at a special children’s concert at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in observance of Universal Children’s Day 2017 under the theme By Children, For Children. The day is in celebration of the declaration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1959.
Husbands said while the convention had ensured children had a voice, they too had a responsibility to ensure they did not abuse those rights and privileges.
“The first of these responsibilities is to take full advantage of those rights, especially the right to an education, and that is, don’t waste the time that you have at school right now. Make full use of every aspect.
“The other responsibility that I think you share is to show support and due respect for those people, who help to promote and enable the rights that you have,” he encouraged.
Pointing out that youth unemployment was one of the major issues affecting young people around the world, the parliamentary secretary urged the students to take advantage of the free education available to them up to secondary school level.
“You have a role to play in protecting yourself from future unemployment. How can you do that? It links back to the right that you have to that education, make full use of it,” he said.
UNICEF Officer for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Heather Stewart also addressed the event, and she called on the Freundel Stuart administration and other regional governments to do more to protect Caribbean children.
With hundreds of thousands of children being afflicted daily by diseases, lack of access to education, poverty, death, crime and violence, Stewart warned that Barbados and the rest of the region should pay special attention to the needs of children as they implement policies.
“Children here in Barbados and across the Caribbean are not immune. A lot of progress has been made . . . for you and with you since the countries in the region singed the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of a Child over 28 years ago,” Stewart said.
“But we also know that lots of work remains to be done., in child protection, for example, to keep you, our children, safe from abuse; in education, to make schooling more relevant and responsive to your generation’s needs; and in our economic models, to design the sorts of policies that would avoid any child and their family having to live in poverty,” she said, adding that the region should also better “tackle the serious issue of climate change”.
During the programme Danika Griffith of the Luther Thorne Memorial School urged her peers to celebrate the achievements even as they complain about the things that affect them.
“Here in Barbados we have access to family, food, shelter, clothing, medical care and we have access to play. These things make us comfortable. We have running water in our homes, channels on television and a cellphone in many children’s hands. Children in our country get to go to school, while in other countries many others can’t,” she said.