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Jamaica just misses top-50 in securing child rights

Published:Tuesday | June 14, 2016 | 6:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Nadine Molloy, principal of Ardenne High, speaks with 15-year-old amputee Nicholas Williams, a student at the school, yesterday.

Jamaica has been ranked 51st out of 163 countries on the KidsRights 2016 Index, which is the global ranking of United Nations member states that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The country received the highest scores for efforts to improve the rights of children to life, health and education, but fell down in the areas of protecting the nation's children and providing an enabling environment for child rights.

While Jamaica's overall score was 51, it ranked 71st based on the right to life, 79th for the right to health, 90th for education, 67th for protection and 59th-66th for creating an enabling environment for child rights.

The provision of an enabling environment for child rights is considered an important and unique part of the KidsRights Index because it provides an assessment of the extent to which the countries have put into effect the general principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It looks at non-discrimination, respect for the views of the child, and the extent to which there is the basic infrastructure for child-rights policy, among other things.

"KidsRights Index shows that children with disabilities in Jamaica continue to face discrimination and are not effectively integrated into all areas of social life, including the education system," the report stated.

The document urged policymakers to ensure that children with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect, and benefit from effective protection.

Efforts, it stated, should also be made to take all necessary measures to ensure that children with disabilities are fully integrated into all areas of social life, including schools, sport and leisure activities.

It was also recommended that facilities and other public areas are made accessible to children with disabilities.

ACCESSIBLE TO DISABLED

Principal of Ardenne High, Nadine Molloy, said her school has made efforts over the years to make the institution more accessible to children with disabilities.

The school has, for example, constructed several ramps and has in the past hosted sessions to educate teachers on how to deal with special-needs children.

Ardenne has had about four students with physical disabilities in recent years.

"The truth is that we also recognise that there are just limitations as well, so we don't timetable their classes upstairs. So if there isn't a ramp, then their classes are not timetabled there," Molloy said.

"If a student suffers a broken limb or a bad sprain, those classes are moved downstairs as well," she said.

For 15-year-old amputee Nicholas Williams, the ramps have made it much easier for him to get around at school.

He was diagnosed with bone cancer at eight years old and doctors amputated one of his legs a year later.

"I don't have a difficulty as others may think," said the ninth-grade student who wants to be an architect in the future.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com