Minister of Education and Human Resource Development??gives the feature address at the launch of the BGIS and UNICEF Rights of the Child Poster and Essay Competitions while (left to right) Violet Speek-Warnery, Officer in Charge, UNICEF Eastern Caribbean, Peter Greene, Chief Information Officer (Ag) and Theresa Blackman, Information Officer listen,??today at the UN Headquarters, Marine House, Hastings, Christ Church. (C.Pitt/BGIS)??

Two competitions that will draw on the knowledge of children to develop essays and posters on the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) were today launched with approval from the Ministry of Education.

The competitions, jointly sponsored by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), were launched at the United Nations House, Marine Gardens, Hastings, Christ Church, under the theme: My Rights – What Child Rights Mean to Me.??

It was there that Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, pointed out that Government remained committed to the protection of children’s rights and would continue to place "great emphasis on ensuring respect for these rights".?? Suggesting that the theme would encourage "reflection" and "stimulate the creativity of the children who participate", Mr. Jones reminded those gathered that Government had placed on record its intention to introduce yet another policy to protect the rights of the child.??

He said: "Only recently, our Prime Minister stated that the Government would be moving swiftly to ensure that single parents (women) would no longer have to go to the Magistrates’ Courts to be told by the Clerk or the person responsible for passing the child support funds, that there is nothing here for you today."

According to him, the directive was given recently to the relevant Ministry with responsibility "to act" on the implementation of that policy. He maintained that while one might wish to argue that the State was interfering in the relationship between man and woman, "the State has to be responsible for the protection of all of its citizens".??

He added:?? "And, if that mother cannot get money to buy food, to provide shelter, what happens to that child? It, of course, does not let the man also responsible for that child off the hook. All it does is satisfy an immediate relief for that parent…but the man or woman is still responsible."??

Indicating that delinquent individuals would still have to pay, he observed, "you still have to provide the resources and the State would find some way of getting it from you." Acknowledging too that some continued to argue against paying [child support] because of some disagreement between parents, Mr. Jones noted: "We cannot allow our children to be the victim of wars between adults… adults have to find sensible and rational ways of settling their wars and conflicts and not pull children into the midst of the act."??

Another initiative which the Education Minister stated that Barbados would soon fulfill was that mandated by CARICOM to "have all young children in a school environment" by 2015.?? Mr. Jones alluded to the number of new schools opened this academic year 2011-2012, as well as other initiatives, noting that they pointed towards achieving this goal before that timeframe.

As he reflected on the CRC, he explained that it required "that States act in the best interest of the child" and added that Government would "endeavour to continue putting children and children’s issues at the forefront of the development of our nation". Stating that Barbados’ commitment was demonstrated

by its ratification of this document, he stressed, "Even as we embraced rights for

children, the society and parents must have a right to manage their children; to speak to them; to relate to them; to give them an opportunity to grow, to self-actualise and to build their self-esteem".

The BGIS and UNICEF were both commended for the project by the Education Minister who urged that the final outputs of the competitions be published with the assistance of his Ministry, via its Media Resource Department.


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