Mr Palm's address on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at "Bajram Curri" school on 19 November 2010
Activities organized by the Ministry of Education and Sciences and UNICEF office at “Bajram Curri” school in Tirana on the occasion of 20 November 2010, anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - The adoption by Parliament of the law on the “Protection of the Rights of the Child”, early in November 2010 was also celebrated the same day
Dear Children, Excellency the Minister of Education, the headmistress of “Bajram Curri” school, teachers, assistants, colleagues and friends from civil society,
Twenty One years ago World Leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, and the powerful people agreed to create an international law, that puts you - the children - into the centre of the universe. They agreed, that decisions to be taken should consider what would be the best for children. This international law - called the Convention on the Rights of the Child - is the most widely accepted international law ever created.
Two weeks ago, the Parliament in Albania adopted a similar law for Albania. In short the law provides for children to be protected from harm, and for all children to have equal opportunities to develop their full potential. This is one of the reasons we celebrate today.
What does this mean? It means that, as long as you, the children, want to study and follow your dreams, you will find a school that welcomes you. You will find teachers that can help you when you find it difficult to concentrate or understand what's going on. It means, that there is school without bullying and fighting, and where everybody looks forward to come back the next day. And there is somebody, who you can talk to when you get confused or find yourself in trouble.
I was here last week to learn a little bit more of your school. I was impressed with what I saw. This is a beautiful school. I know that your teachers understand you. I know that both teaching, and learning, can be very difficult. I have no doubt, that this school makes the best efforts possible. I know that everybody wants to help you, even if life outside the school sometimes appears to be difficult.
As much as I hope that you, the students, find the school a place that you enjoy, and where you can make friends, I also hope - and encourage you - to help your neighborhoods to become a place of friendship, and understanding. Where everyone accepts the other, and help each other, when times are hard. I know, you, the children, can do it.
Now I am speaking to the adults: On the one hand we know that the school must be a place where children of all origins and abilities get their equal chances, and where those with more difficulties are helped more. On the other hand or in the other direction, we know that schools and education are the places where the values of tolerance and mutual respect, solidarity and social inclusion are created and propagated into the community and public life. So that everyone has the same chance to grow to their full potential.
It all starts with education. Minister Tafaj knows when I am saying: Was Haenschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr. What you don't learn as a small kid, you will not learn later in life. Our expectations for the education system are great. We want education to start as early as possible, at the age of three, and we want young people to have the chance to learn until they step into adulthood. It’s difficult, it costs money. But Albania's parliamentarians have shown that they are willing to put children first. Thank you. We are here to help, in whatever way we can.
Let me close by thanking the officials from the Ministry of Education, the children, all the teachers from the “Bajram Curri” school and especially the headmistress for the wonderful work you are doing. I know it's hard, sometimes, but you should know that we appreciate it, on behalf of the children and their families. Enjoy the celebrations.