IN keeping with the universal mandate of protecting and caring for children, the Government will be moving to establish more childcare programmes and centres, said the President, Dr. Irfaan Ali.
It is common knowledge that every child is entitled to be nurtured in a healthy, protective and supportive environment that allows for the realisation of the fullness of his or her potential. And, everyone has a duty to ensure such an environment is cultivated for children.
To this end, President Ali said the foundation for a better tomorrow must be built on promoting greater respect for and enforcement of children’s rights, providing adequate protection and care, and strengthening children’s education.
“More day-care centres will be established for the children of employed mothers. These will relieve mothers of the burdens of having to find persons to take care of their children while they are at work. To support these initiatives, a corps of childcare providers and protectors will be trained,” said President Ali in a statement on World Children’s Day, which was observed on Friday.
The Government of Guyana has also committed to promoting the rights of every child. Key pieces of legislation relevant to childcare and child protection have been enacted by the government over the years.
Guyana is also a signatory to international agreements such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It is for this reason that President Ali said: “Child care and protection must become the responsibility of all of our society. We acknowledge the importance of child care services provided by private individuals, groups and non-governmental organizations.”
Government, he said, will incentivise and provide support to those persons who provide such services.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, unfortunately, has disrupted the provision of some of these services, but the Government is confident that there will be a remission of the pandemic and restoration of normalcy, soon.
The pandemic has adversely affected children’s lives; for the greater part of this year, schools have been closed.
“The social restrictions which have been implemented, however, ought not to foreclose on opportunities for learning. We have begun to expand these opportunities for children’s learning,” said President Ali.
Education remains a key element of the Government’s plan to create a better future for children. The Government has also, in a measured manner, and with due regard for children’s safety, reopened schools for students of Grades 10, 11 and 12.
“We are not just reimagining a better future for our children; we are making it happen. In this regard, we need the support of every citizen. As we celebrate World Children’s Day 2020, I urge all Guyanese to join with your Government in helping to promote the rights of the child, provide improved protection and care for them, and to strengthen their education,” said President Ali.
He added: “No child should suffer the indignities associated with violations of their rights, or from a lack of a satisfactory education.
“Let us join hearts and hands as we build a more caring and compassionate Guyana, where our children can be happy, loved and be safe! In doing so, we will be creating a supportive environment, so that they can enjoy the best of what life has in store for them.”
BUILD BETTER POST-PANDEMIC WORLD
Meanwhile, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative, Irfan Akhtar welcomed the Guyanese President and Government’s renewed commitment to children, highlighting that UNICEF’s ‘Reimagine’ campaign calls on partners, Governments, and all UNICEF supporters to build a better post-pandemic world.
“Children and young people must be included in decisions that affect their future,” said Akhtar in a UNICEF release. He called on all partners to accelerate action for children in several areas, including ensuring that all children learn, and closing the digital divide. He also urged that measures be put in place to keep children healthy by ensuring access to primary healthcare, and making vaccines affordable and available to every child, as well as support to protect the mental health of children and young people, and bring an end to abuse, gender-based violence and neglect in childhood.
The UNICEF representative also highlighted areas for action to increase access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, address climate change, reverse child poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all. “We have a critical window of opportunity to reverse this child rights crisis and reimagine a better future for children,” said Akhtar.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud, in her message, called on all to reimagine a world where every child is invested in, where their safety is guaranteed and where they know their future is limitless.
The minister, according to the release, outlined the work her ministry will be doing to meet these goals. Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney-General Mohabir, Anil Nandlall said that investment in children is a priority in the country’s developmental agenda. He highlighted that Guyana’s Constitution recognises the welfare of children as paramount and binds the State and all Government and State agencies, when considering the interest of children, to ensure that the welfare of the child receives the top consideration.
Chairperson of the Rights of the Child Commission, Aleema Nasir urged all to ensure that children’s rights are observed and to listen to their children, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. First Lady, Arya Alli, in her message, also echoed the call to reimagine and design a world for children that is more just and more resilient. Young Guyanese from across the country, meanwhile, shared their vision of the future they wish to see, in illustrations and in video messages sent to UNICEF Guyana.
World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s global day of action for children, taking place every year on 20 November, the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On this day, UNICEF advocates and raises awareness for the most pressing issues facing children. This year, WCD is taking place during one of the most extraordinary and challenging moments in history as the coronavirus pandemic and the related upheavals transform the lives of children everywhere. UNICEF’s ‘Reimagine’ campaign calls on partners, governments, and all UNICEF supporters to build a better post-pandemic world and urge that children and young people must be included in decisions that affect their future, the release concluded.