Opinion: The Unicef report

POSTED: 10/28/13 12:37 PM

Dear Members of Parliament,

Soualiga Social Movement took notice of the Unicef report on Children in the Dutch Caribbean and more specifically The Situation of Children and Adolescents in Sint Maarten: key findings and recommendations that was published in April this year. The latter begins with the following: “A situation analysis of Sint Maarten’s children and adolescents was undertaken in 2012. Commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund-The Americas and Caribbean Regional Office, it was conducted by the Observatorio Social del Ecuador (OSE), a non-governmental organization based in Quito. The research had two main dimensions: 1. A review of sources and statistical data to understand the reality of the country; and 2. Dialogue with 48 key informants (25 state and 23 civil society actors) as well as 3 focus groups to collectively determine the advances and challenges in the situation of children and adolescents.”

The introduction is followed up by a brief explanation about the geography and demography of Sint Maarten. Then the areas like health, education, protection and participation are being reviewed and the progress made in those areas as well as challenges remaining are mentioned. The section after that is the section in which twenty-four (24) recommendations are made and it ends with the following conclusion: “Sint Maarten is a new country under construction and is in the process of developing new laws, policies, programs and activities for institutional strengthening, consolidating an organized society and training local cadres in public administration. The budget reflects a country with high investment in social areas, and major progress has been made in fulfilling the rights of children and adolescents. Important successes include universal health-care coverage for children and adolescents, the low child mortality rate and the introduction of compulsory education. Undoubtedly one future priority should be collecting and collating adequate information in order to understand and tackle the main challenges of childhood and adolescence through a continued emphasis on the formulation of evidence-based laws, policies and programs aligned to the CRC and CRC Committee’s recommendations.”

 

We would like to be informed by parliament, as our elected representatives, what actions have been undertaken by you and the respective ministries on the following recommendations:

1. Strengthen the department of statistics to produce accurate and timely information derived from not only the census but also new surveys on household living conditions in order to prepare specific indicators for monitoring compliance with the rights of children and adolescents.

2. Create a social observatory to monitor state actions concerning children and adolescents with special emphasis on the situation of those who are immigrants.

3. Design and implement a youth employment policy and create more opportunities for adolescents aged between 15 and 19 through integrated academic and technical training to meet the country’s development needs.

4. Design and implement a unified model of secondary education aimed at all schools using similar methods and the same language of instruction.

5. Increase the supply of high quality, subsidized childcare centers to relieve the burden on working parents, especially mothers.

6. Introduce, expand and, when feasible, fund after-school programs for children and adolescents to promote the best use of free time and develop artistic and cultural expression as well as encouraging participation in sports.

7. Enhance coordination between government and civil society actors engaged in providing child protection services.

8. Reinforce and implement legislation against domestic violence and develop mass education programs on prevention, treatment and resolution of problems of violence to encourage people to report incidents.

9. Create social mechanisms to prevent the normalization of violence against and among children and adolescents.

10. Set up a telephone hotline or other means of communication about the problem to provide counselling services and referrals to child protection services for victims of abuse, violence and neglect.

11. Design an early warning system for violations of the rights of children and adolescents that involves the judicial, health and education systems and civil society watchdogs.

12. Design and implement an integration policy for immigrant children that includes a process to normalize their immigration status, school insertion and access to health services as well as neighborhood programs encouraging cultural integration. #sxmmovement

 

Soualiga Social Movement

 

 

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