Government Delegates Highlight Best Practices for Child Rights at High Level Meeting in India
SUVA, 25 October, 2013 – A Vice President, Ministers and Government officials from Pacific Island Countries are attending a three day meeting to renew political commitments to child rights and exchange experiences among 32 countries in Asia and the Pacific.
The meeting, titled “2nd High Level Meeting on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in Asia and the Pacific,” is focusing on the following themes:
· Adolescents: current rights for future opportunities
· Fulfilling child rights with early childhood development
· Urban settings as an opportunity for realizing all child rights
Ten Pacific countries are presenting papers on the different themes at the meeting: Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Samoa, Cook Islands, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Niue and Vanuatu. A senior official of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will also speak.
Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Social Welfare, Dr. Josefa Koroivueta highlighted Fiji’s social protection system which targets children, women, people with disabilities and the elderly who are living in destitution or on the verge of destitution.
“For children, these are the main social protection programs. The first one is the Care & Protection Allowance, which is a monthly cash grant for children living in poor families. Another programme which was launched in 2009 and reaches around 100,000 primary and secondary school students, is the Free Bus Fare Scheme. This programme provides transportation assistance to school children. It aims to increase school attendance by reducing the cost of education and complements the provision of free textbooks to students,” said Dr. Koroivueta.
In addressing the needs and development of children in Marshall Islands, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Hon. Wilbur Heine talked about the Kumit Bobrae Coalition project which involves traditional leaders, churches, businesses and communities to build and maintain skills to prevent and reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. “As a result, the outcome measurement of Retailer Violation Rate in selling tobacco and alcohol to minors has dramatically dropped from 93.2% to 18.7% over the last few years,” he said.
He also drew attention to the School Enrichment Program which provides a safe and caring environment beyond school hours where children have the opportunity to play sports, be involved in arts and craft and explore computer programmes. “One significant outcome of this program is that students enrolled in the SEP often become excellent athletes and are selected to represent their atolls or communities in local events and even more, their country in regional and international sports,” said Hon. Heine.
In his presentation on what Tuvalu was doing to promote child rights, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Hon. Fauoa Mani spoke about working with key stakeholders to provide education that is more inclusive of children with disabilities.
“Inclusive education is challenging especially in the provision of services and infrastructure to support it (such as) - the training of teachers to be able to serve and care for these children, infrastructure to support their needs, and the learning or educational programmes,” he said.
Ms. Ethel Sigimanu, Permanent Secretary For Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs of Solomon Islands was selected to be on the high level drafting committee that will prepare the Meeting’s Declaration.
UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen has been working with the Pacific delegates and said “the Pacific delegation is making a significant contribution to the meeting and the Declaration, including through their solidarity. We are all learning from others how Pacific nations can improve access to early childhood education, opportunities for adolescents and the life of children in urban squatter settlements.”
The meeting, hosted by the Government of India, is taking place in New Delhi from 23-25 October 2013.
UNICEF is present in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Donna Hoerder, UNICEF Pacific, +679 9265518, firstname.lastname@example.org