|A student shares a laugh with the United Nations Children’s Fund Representative for the Eastern Caribbean, Khin-Sandi Lwin (left) and Ronald Jones, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, today, at the Opening Ceremony of a National School’s Symposium To Observe the 22nd Anniversary of Barbados’s Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of The Child at the 3W’s Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. (C.Pitt/BGIS)|
Barbados’ achievements over the past 22 years since ratifying the Convention on the Rights of The Child have not gone unnoticed.??
This was made clear today as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Khin-Sandi Lwin, addressed the opening ceremony of a National School’s Symposium To Observe the 22nd Anniversary of Barbados’s Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of The Child at the 3W’s Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
Ms. Lwin told the gathering of over 60 students (and their teachers) from secondary schools across the island: "Twenty-two years ago Barbados made a powerful statement on the international stage when it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – joining the majority of countries around the world in committing to creating the best developmental, protective and creative environment for all children in the nation."
She added: "Every child, no matter how disadvantaged by parental income or family circumstance, geography, disability, race or gender, has an equal right to enjoy the protection of the Convention and the rights it sets out – the right to survival; development to the fullest; protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; along with full participation in family, cultural and social life."
The UNICEF representative reminded teachers and guidance counsellors that the rights in the Convention were all essential to human dignity and to the harmonious development of every child. She reminded them too that in a more concrete sense,
these rights set global minimum standards for children’s health care, education and their access to legal, civil and social services.
It was noted that by ratifying the Convention, national governments had committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children’s rights as outlined in the Convention and held themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community."
Students also heard that Barbados and the rest of the region had achieved much; that infant and child mortality rates were low and declining; that the region had achieved excellent immunisation coverage with rates over 95 percent for diseases such as polio; measles, mumps and rubella, and that Barbados had long achieved universal primary education and was this year celebrating 50 years of universal secondary education.
However, Ms Lwin noted that there was still a far way to go as there were a number of challenges including a high prevalence of child abuse, including sexual abuse; increasing poverty as a result of economic situation and the continued sanctioning of corporal punishment as a key disciplinary tool.
Meanwhile, student of the Coleridge and Parry School, Raymond Jones, in making a declaration on behalf of the students said: "Personally, I find it is my duty to come here today to send a message to the children not only in Barbados but throughout the world; to say to them that they are not alone.
"Others are taking note of their situation and are trying to help – whether it is individuals, community groups or even large organisations such as UNICEF playing a key role by ensuring children’s rights are acknowledged and maintained throughout the world."