[Discuss-sudbury-model] Parents cannot be penalised for not sending children to school - (Los padres no pueden ser penalizados por no mandar a sus hijos a la escuela)

From: David Rovner <rovners_at_netvision.net.il>
Date: Sun Sep 21 07:34:00 2003

Parents cannot be penalised for not sending children to school - Letter to Prime Minister of India (Los padres no pueden ser penalizados por no mandar a sus hijos a la escuela - Carta al Primer Ministro de la India), Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee, in response to news items carried in some of the local newspapers in Karnataka covering the PM's interactions with a group of school children in Manali recently

"We are convinced that punishing parents or herding children back into ineffective schools is not a solution. If we as a society are seriously committed to taking education to all children, it should begin by listening to children and their needs. It should ensure that the time spent by the child in school is valid and valued – for the present and the future."

http://www.workingchild.org/ -- WHAT'S NEW

see also:
http://www.workingchild.org/ -- PROTAGONISM
A JOURNEY IN CHILDREN’S PARTICIPATION
"Children have asserted their right to intervene in their environment and change it for the better. As a result many of us have realised that the active and equal participation of children in all matters concerning them is both realistic and beneficial. However in order to enable this we adults and adult led organisations have to examine ourselves critically and redefine our roles, sometimes to the extent of unlearning what we thought to be ‘right’ and reconstructing ourselves closer to the children’s paradigm."

Children build their own school
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/dhruvalink.htm

SOME ELEMENTS OF PARTNERSHIP

  a.. OPENESS
  b.. RESPECT AND TRUST ON THE PART OF BOTH
  c.. FREEDOM TO EXPRESS ONESELF
  d.. SENSITIVITY
  e.. AFFECTION
  f.. COMMITMENT
  g.. Understanding
  h.. Mutual support
  i.. Empowering
  j.. Based on friendship
  k.. Based on negotiation
  l.. Flexible
  m.. One of sharing
  n.. Mutual accountability
  o.. Sharing both rights and responsibilities
  p.. Joyful
  q.. Agreeing to disagree sometimes
  r.. CHALLENGING
  s.. ACCEPTING OF EACH OTHER’S REALITY
  t.. SHARED VISION
  u.. BASED ON LISTENING TO EACH OTHER
  v.. NOT MANIPULATIVE

Article 3
states that in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Article 12
states that children have the right to be consulted on decisions which affect them.

Article 13
states that children have the right to freedom of expression and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers through any medium of the child’s choice.

Article 15
states that children have the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

Article 29
states that children have the right to an education that enables them to reach their fullest potential; develop a respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, parents, cultural identity, language and values; prepares them for a life in a free society in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and equality; and a respect for the natural environment.

Children’s right to self-expression regarding matters concerning their lives

The right of the Children to:-
Privacy,

To be heard,

To information,

To self-expression,

To protection.

The State has to respect children's rights and become more responsive to children's needs

see also:
Do you want to learn more about child exploitation worldwide? Are you interested in getting involved in the fight against illegal child labor?
http://www.marketplace.org/features/child_labor/

Children say ‘no’ to child marriage
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/prota8b.htm

Child domestic work – violence behind closed doors
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/prota7.htm

Children as activists
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/prota1.htm

Children's expressions: We hope for work that we enjoy and a world in peace
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/prota3.htm

Can the drafters of the new Convention guarantee that this Convention will not
  a.. Harm the children they set out to help and reduce their quality of life
  b.. Ignore the views and concerns of working children
  c.. Solve only the symptoms
  d.. Allow strategies that are single pointed or simplistic
  e.. Exclude working children from participating in decision making processes and structures
  f.. Ignore the right of working children to organise themselves
  g.. set up monitoring mechanisms that only monitor the extent to which sectors or industries are free of child workers
We would welcome a Convention that will:

  a.. Improve the quality of life of working children
  b.. Take working children's views and concerns into consideration
  c.. Solve the basic causes of child labour
  d.. Ensure that strategies are comprehensive, sustainable, viable and appropriate
  e.. Set up mandatory monitoring mechanisms that will ensure that strategies will address all the above
http://www.workingchild.org/htm/research1.htm

~ David Rovner

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To,

Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee,
The Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi.

Respected Sir,

Some of the local newspapers in Karnataka carried a news item of your interactions with a group of school children in Manali during which you were quoted as having said that 'there are countries where parents are punished for not sending their children to school, India may soon follow suit.'

We, the Concerned for Working Children are a national organisation working with children and their rights for almost two decades. We are extremely disturbed by the implications of your statement Sir, and would like to raise the following issues in that connection.

We would like to bring to your kind attention that most out of school children come from extremely marginalised families, who battle for bare survival daily. Even after 52 years of independence we have not solved poverty or been able to provide the basic necessities such as employment, food, housing or even access to clean drinking water. Any measure to penalise parents of such children will only result in further abuse and oppression of people who are already being stamped underfoot by the state and civil society.

Many children also have financial constraints as they share their families’ struggle for survival and have to contribute in every way they can. Such children cannot attend school during traditional hours, as there is an overlap between the hours of work and school.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that a majority of children in our country and their families have real problems with the formal school system as it is today. They find that the education that schools provide is not relevant to their lives, their livelihood and their socialisation needs. They have serious problems related to access, teaching and learning methodologies, an uncongenial learning environment and the lack of infrastructure.

These are serious issues and cannot be glossed over by ‘motivating parents’ through penalizing them, a contradiction in itself.

We are convinced that punishing parents or herding children back into ineffective schools is not a solution. If we as a society are seriously committed to taking education to all children, it should begin by listening to children and their needs. It should ensure that the time spent by the child in school is valid and valued – for the present and the future.

Every single child we work with values ‘education’, however, they do not find this within the formal system today. Along with Shakespeare and Mahatma Gandhi they also want to learn about their rights and roles in the society. When they learn maths and science, they need to know how to apply that to their real lives. Besides wanting knowledge for its own sake, they also need to be able to learn a vocation that will improve their and their communities a better quality of life. While learning about the Moguls and the Aryans they also need to know about the history of their village. Children want to know about their bodies, reproduction, and prevention of deadly diseases like AIDS.

If our schooling can ensure all this, then compulsion will not be required to motivate children and their families to participate actively in education. Our own experience in our field programmes in Karnataka and those of several other NGOs has proved this beyond doubt. These are lessons our Governments could benefit from and take to scale.

In the light of the above realities, we sincerely hope that you will reconsider your statement and frame a policy that is more compassionate of the poor and understanding of their needs.

Thanking you,

Nandana Reddy,
Director, Development
The Concerned for Working Children
Received on Sun Sep 21 2003 - 07:33:58 EDT

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