Jamaica lagging behind on child rights

Published: Saturday | April 28, 2012 Comments 0

The United Nations Children's Fund's (UNICEF) resident representative, Robert Fuderich, has given Jamaica a less-than-impressive grade for efforts made to satisfy the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

He said while the country has employed strategies to help children, there are still too many violations preventing the nation from progressing.

Fuderich said the country deserves as low as a 'C' for its efforts in putting things in place, and a 'D' for the actual results.

He was speaking with The Gleaner on Thursday at a workshop for journalists on children's rights, at The Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston.

"There are still children in adult lock-ups. If you go to Fort Augusta, there are girls that are housed with women criminals and it says in the convention that children should not be housed with adult criminals. So that is still a violation that we have and there are several others that we can look at," he said.

He also bemoaned the state of the education sector, even though there is a high enrolment rate.

"I look at the fact that Jamaica has 98 per cent enrolment in preschool and yet there is a first-grade readiness test and 50 per cent of the kids aren't ready for it.

"You should have phenomenal results with the rate of enrolment but it is not happening. Then you go to the fourth grade where you have literacy and numeracy tests and the results are also bad and so there are things in place, but the results aren't good," Fuderich continued.

Unable to pay

He said that something needed to be done as persons from the lower income brackets of society were suffering the most, as they are unable to pay extra to get a good education.

He blamed the country's limited resources for the huge problem, saying there was not enough money to maintain the projects. He said a lot of the systems that are put in place are not sustained with quality service.

"So you will look at the child abuse cases and, yes, we are registering more, but then the Child Development Agency only has six investigators to go out and investigate, so we are still not there yet," he said.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by Jamaica in 1991.

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