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Education not free

By CAROL MATROO Friday, May 23 2014

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Political lesson: Teenage girls from Port-of-Spain schools learn about the role of Parliament from a lecture by Speaker Wade Mark at the Parliament, T...
Political lesson: Teenage girls from Port-of-Spain schools learn about the role of Parliament from a lecture by Speaker Wade Mark at the Parliament, T...

Students from Bishop Anstey High School, Holy Name Convent and St Francois Girls’ College yesterday were given a short course on the Parliament’s role to protect the rights of the child.

The discourse was carried out by Speaker Wade Mark at the Parliament, Level 8, Tower D, Port- of-Spain. Mark spoke on “The Role of the Parliament Pertaining to the Rights of the Child” where he noted that Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stated that a child was a person below the age of 18.

The Speaker told the and fourth form students that they were the future generation, therefore strong emphasis was placed on the protection of the nation’s investment for the future.

He informed them that it was the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) that upheld the Convention on the Rights of the Child under which children’s rights were required to be kept.

Regarding the role of the Parliament, Mark said the Children’s Act, which has been amended 19 times since its enactment in 1925, was preceded by the Children’s Ordinance. However, he said, the violence, abuse and neglect that children were subjected to then were of a much different nature today.

Mark noted the Children (Amendment) Act of 2000 did not deal with many of the deficiencies identified in the Act, and therefore had to be reviewed by the Joint Select Committee.

The Speaker urged the teenage girls not to take their education for granted. “Although you have a right to be educated, I ask you please do not take that right for granted. I do not want you to think that this education, though completely underwritten by the State, is free.

“Remember that the Government itself does not have money, Government receives money from its citizens through various forms of taxation,” Mark said, noting that there were still some countries still to comply with this mandate.

Mark said that no child should be refused an education at any public school. Section 7 of the Education Act, Chapter 39:01 states: “No person shall be refused admission to any public school on account of their religious persuasion, race, social status or language of such person or of his parent.”

The Speaker said education not only taught “book knowledge”, but also imparted society’s culture, moral values, politics religious beliefs and habits.

He said the Convention also mandated that school administrators review their discipline policies and eliminate any discipline practices involving physical and mental violence, abuse or neglect.

Mark said the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago acted as an advocate for the rights of all children with the ability to investigate complaints of any kind of mistreatment. He said under the Convention, governments were mandated to protect children from work deemed dangerous to their health.

Section 105 in the Children Act 2010 states: “A child under the age of 16 years shall not be employed or work in any public or private undertaking, or in any branch thereof, other than an undertaking owned and controlled by members of the same family; and any person who employs any such, commits an offence.”

Mark urged the students to do their own research on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to learn more about their rights.

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