Safeguarding the Rights of Indigenous Children and Adolescents
7 June 2012 Punta Gorda, Toledo
Belize’s indigenous population – particularly its children and adolescents – face many challenges in their development as well as in realizing their basic rights to education, health, and protection. As part of the Government of Belize-UNICEF Programme of Cooperation and in collaboration with Tumul K’in, the National Garifuna Council, Congress of Maya Teachers, Maya Youth Coalition, Battle of the Drums Secretariat, and Maya Leaders Alliance, a two day symposium focusing on indigenous children and adolescent rights will be held on 7-8 June 2012 in Punta Gorda Town. The symposium will have the participation of NGOs, CSOs and individuals working with children in Southern Belize.
The symposium entitled, ‘Safeguarding the Rights of Indigenous Children and Adolescents’ will commence with an opening ceremony by Mayor Antony Fuentes at 9:00 a.m. in Punta Gorda Town in the Toledo District. The Keynote Address will be presented by Dr. Peter Allen, Chief Executive Officer from the Ministry of Health. The main objectives of the Symposium are: to articulate and draft an agenda for indigenous children and adolescents as part of the National Plan of Action at national and local levels; to review the challenges faced by indigenous children and adolescents and their families; and finally to explore promising practices in programming for indigenous children and adolescents in Belize.
The first day will focus on the achievement of social well-being for Indigenous Children and Adolescents. This includes the articulation of their rights within the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents in the context of the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) focusing on equity and quality in health, nutrition across the life cycle; early childhood development; the right to identity; participation and the promotion of indigenous cultures. A map of all the current indigenous initiatives will be presented as well, that will underscore the gaps that exist in programmes and policies as it relates to indigenous children.
Models that highlight the successful approaches to education from indigenous educational institutions such as Julian Cho and Corazon High schools, Tumul k’in Learning Centre, Gulisi and Aguacate primary schools will be shared. A youth panel will further articulate what it means to be an indigenous adolescent through their eyes and share their experiences as well as hardships that they endure in order to fulfill their rights as young citizens. Their voices will stimulate discussion on the much needed agenda for the indigenous children and adolescents.
On the second day, priorities for indigenous children and adolescents will be identified. Attorney Antoinette Moore will discuss the CRC in the context of indigenous rights with a view to frame indigenous children’s plan with its follow up actions to safeguard their rights.
The two days of deliberation will promote expression of opinions, experiences, ideas, concerns and recommendations to ensure that indigenous children and adolescents are able to fully realize their rights. Partners participating in this symposium will continue to build awareness and understanding among authorities and civil society toward the challenges, bottlenecks and desires that indigenous communities face especially the children. Recognizing the challenges faced by indigenous peoples in safeguarding their rights requires ongoing dialogue to address the current situation of high poverty rate and lack of basic needs in the indigenous communities in Belize.
Anna D. Hoare, Communication Officer
About Tumul k’in Centre of Learning
Ester Sanchez Sho, Managing Director
National Garifuna Council please contact: