By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine government has called for the comprehensive implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with more emphasis on child rights education, at a recent panel discussion held on the sidelines of the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations and International Organizations Evan Garcia said the concept of rights is innate to the Filipino culture, and that the faithful observance of the Convention by all parties becomes more urgent with the challenges being faced by children all over the world, such as exploitation, abuse, neglect, and trafficking, as well as those in the refugee and migration contexts.
“All States around the world except one have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and have thereby committed to “make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike,” Garcia said in his remarks at the Council’s session last month.
Marie Wernham, UNICEF Consultant on Child Rights Education (CRE), for her part, explained that child rights education is a fundamental first step towards the implementation of the Convention, which will mark the 30th year of its entry into force in 2019.
She said CRE involves both children and adults, including other caretakers and authorities, and “should be systematically incorporated in formal education systems, as well as learned by children by experience” in their daily lives.
Philippine Education Assistant Secretary Josephine Maribojoc, who was part of the delegation, made a presentation on how Filipino children in primary school learn about their rights in the K-12 curriculum and how they learn through experiencing these rights.
She cited as an example the participation of students in student governments, in decision-making through their membership in the Parent Teachers’ Association, and through various DepEd programs on leadership development of young people and on special education.
Maribojoc emphasized that the Philippine Constitution and Ambisyon 2040 provide key guidance in the Department of Education’s efforts to improve CRE programs as it improves the quality of education for the benefit of 26 million Filipino students enrolled from kindergarten to senior high school.