Reflections on CRC Article 28

Every child has the right to an education. Primary education should be free. Secondary and higher education should be available to every child. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible.

Laksmi Pamuntjak
Reading books in Papua
UNICEFIndonesia/2018/Shehzad Noorani
01 November 2019

We are often told that we need to get rid of poverty so that poor children can get an education. Or the reverse: it is lack of education which is the root cause of poverty. We learn of children so poor they go to school hungry because there is not enough food in the house. Children who walk to school barefoot because the family cannot afford shoes. Children who don’t go to school at all for reasons out of their families’ control—because the school is too far, because there are not enough teachers in the school, because there is simply no school to go to.

Yet the cold, hard facts remain: if children can’t read or do basic math, they will not have a job. They will likely have poor health and nutrition. The number of girls kept at home will perpetuate gender inequality because girls are seen to have less educational value than boys to begin with. Children with disabilities are also likely kept at home because many education institutions are ill-equipped to cater for children with different abilities. For many of the poorest families, school remains prohibitively expensive and instead of being sent to school children have to work to support their families. They will prolong the cycle of poverty and unproductivity that their families have been locked into for generations, and will never reach the ‘demographic bonus’ needed for the country’s economic future. And on it goes.

It is a long road still. But as Lu Xun, the Chinese writer and poet, says, “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”


Though these reflections were inspired by the accompanying photographs, the texts do not describe the life or story of any person depicted within them.


 

Convention on the rights of the child
UNICEFIndonesia/2018/ShehzadNoorani

In 1989, governments across the world promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Convention says what countries must do so that all children grow as healthy as possible, can learn at school, are protected, have their views listened to, and are treated fairly.

As part of Indonesia’s celebrations in November 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF asked Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak to help us envision some of these CRC articles. Inspired by photos and images from our database, and working with our programme specialists, Laksmi created 15 fictional texts on some of the most relevant articles for the Indonesian context.

Though these reflections were inspired by the accompanying photographs, the texts do not describe the life or story of any person depicted within them.