Live debate: Leaders of the electoral competing parties answer the questions asked by children
The televised debate on children's and young people's issues, organized by UNICEF and Save the Children
Bucharest, November 13, 2020. With less than a month before the parliamentary elections and one week before the World Children’s Day, celebrated worldwide on November 20th, UNICEF and Save the Children organized a televised debate in which children asked questions to the leaders of the political parties in Romania about the problems that they face.
The special edition of the Sinteza zilei, broadcast live on Thursday evening on Antena 3, had as young guests Corina, Antonio, Rareș, Sophia, Loreema and Sebastian. The six children and teenagers asked politicians what solutions they propose for urgent issues that concern them, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the December parliamentary elections.
Involved in volunteer activities and members of the UNICEF supported Children's Board, , Rareș (12 years old), Sophia (17 years old) and Sebastian (17 years old) teamed up with Antonio (10 years old), Corina (11 years old) and Loreema (16 years old), volunteers and participants in the socio-educational programs of Save the Children organization, and talked the problems encountered by the children, especially in this period of crisis.
The children met with Raluca Turcan (vice-president of PNL and vice-prime minister), Gabriela Firea (first vice-president of PSD), Victor Ponta (president of PRO Romania), Dan Barna (president of USR), Eugen Tomac (president of PMP) and Daniel Ionașcu (executive president of PPU).
Statements made by politicians to the questions asked by children:
- “Regarding selective waste collection, unfortunately we are facing fines now because many local authorities have been reluctant to take this measure because it has some less popular connotations ... I think that if, in every day of our lives, at every level, we will say that plastic must go to plastic, that paper, cardboard must go to cardboard, household waste in the specially arranged space, we will end up creating that comfort for local authorities to apply for European funds. For a landfill for selectively collected waste, there is European money worth 70 million euros per administrative unit” (Raluca Turcan)
- “There is no sport on the table. There is no school on the tablet. Schools should be open safely. There are too many children in this country and in the world, who do not have a phone, tablet and internet and the fact that they do not have them pulls them away from you, the ones you have them”. (Victor Ponta)
- "I think we should all make the promise tonight that if those of us who are running now enter Parliament, we will also go to Parliament with the T-shirts you have, with what it says – ‘6% of GDP for education' and at that moment there will be fewer and fewer cases of children who will be in such a situation", said Gabriela Firea, answering a question asked by Corina, who said she heard about cases in which some children are not allowed by their parents to participate in online classes, being forced to help them in the household. Throughout the debate, the children wore T-shirts, on which „6 per cent of GDP” was printed, a demand that Education be properly funded.
- “That social support that is given to children, families should be really targeted on concrete needs, because in this way, and if the information comes from the school level, from the community level, you know very clearly who are those children who can afford designer clothes and who are those children who enjoy a functioning laptop, a tablet through which they could connect or open a window to the world. This is part of the solution that exists: public support from the state and the allocation of money for education, those 6%, includes exactly this type of money, which can go to families who really need it and who are forced to use it for children and not for other purposes of family needs, more or less legitimate”. (Dan Barna)
- “You must set a tone for this country, that Romanians together are a family, that only together we are strong; separately, each separately, we are weak. Have the power, know how to pull your grandparents and parents by the sleeve”. (Daniel Ionașcu)
- “I think that the next generation has a lot of challenges ahead and you have to have the courage that you, and you, and all those who follow us, have in this evening, because in life it is important to have goals, to have a belief in something, to be guided by that goal. Take the good part of everything around you". (Eugen Tomac)
The conclusions of the meeting were drawn by Sebastian, who stated that "it would have been more constructive if we had heard some real implementation strategies". "I want all the issues we discussed tonight to be resolved in the four-year term you may get and that in four years we will not be here, asking the same questions," Sophia said, while Corina made the observation that: "I wanted to know if everything you told us about the measures you will take will really apply, because many measures have been taken so far in Romania and none have been applied."
The show, moderated by directors Adrian Ursu and Sabina Iosub, can be accessed here.
"We are at a critical juncture for the future of children. The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has effects that we are beginning to see now on children, but whose impact we will really feel in the coming months and years, if the necessary measures are not taken now", said Pieter Bult , the UNICEF representative in Romania. "Together with the Children's Board and the National Student Council, UNICEF has proposed 10 solutions to improve the situation of children in Romania, and this TV debate is an important step in transmitting children's messages to the politicians, especially in the context of the upcoming parliamentary elections. It is important that child rights be above politics and all parties that joined last night demonstrated this needed unity around children’s rights".
"The most vulnerable children are now in an even more difficult situation, due to the closure of schools and other restrictions imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Many children still do not have access to online education, and parents, forced to stay at home to care for them, are unable to earn a living", said Gabriela Alexandrescu, executive president of Save the Children Romania. "The political class must protect the education of children, otherwise we risk ending up with irreparable consequences for future generations. To this end, we invite them to find out what measures should be undertaken in the following period from the survey conducted by Save the Children with regards to the conditions for starting the school year".
About Save the Children România
For 30 years, Save the Children Romania has been creating social programmes, public policies and solid practices to the benefit of the child in Romania. Due to the expertise and complexity of its nationwide projects, the organisation is a key social institution, the role of which is to mediate between the society and the public authority, to the benefit of the child. In three decades of activity, Save the Children has actively participated in the society, identifying concrete solutions for protecting and supporting vulnerable children, while also advocating for viable collaboration with the decision-making authorities, to ensure the best interest of the child.
Save the Children took on the role of a vigilant supervisor of the public authorities, so that they implement long-lasting public policies that correct the causes which make the children vulnerable. Moreover, the organisation managed to create active networks of solidarity, by encouraging the social responsibility of companies and of society, at large.
As member of Save the Children Association, the world’s largest independent organisation that promotes children’s rights, includes 30 members and conducts programmes in more than 120 countries, our VISION is a world that respects each and every child’s right to survival, education, protection and participation, undertaking the MISSION of achieving significant progress on how children are treated and producing immediate and lasting change in their life. In 30 years of activity, more than 2,200,000 children were involved in the programmes and campaigns of Save the Children Romania.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.