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TONI THORNE: Respect rights of children


TONI THORNE

TONI THORNE: Respect rights of children

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LAST WEEK, two Rastafarian parents from the Tribe of Jah Holy Faith were charged with failing to send to school their two children – nine and 12 years old. As this Nation article was shared across social media, many voiced their opinions on the matter.  

Interestingly, the reaction showed a high level of disdain some have for the Rastafarian community. It also showed a high level of persecution complexes some in the Rastafarian community have as well. I urge the latter not to feed into the negativity occasionally spewed on them. Always remain gracious and positive. 

Every child has a right to education. This is seen in the UN Convention on the Rights of Child. This is supported by Article 6 which highlights a “right to life, survival and development”.

This right states that “children have the right to life and governments must do all they can to ensure children survive and develop to their fullest potential. The right to life and survival guarantees the most basic needs such as nutrition, shelter or access to health care. Development – physical, emotional, educational, social and spiritual – is the goal of many of the rights in the Convention, for example, the right to education, access to information, freedom of thought or right to play”.

Article 3 can also be cited in this matter which addresses the best interest of the child. It states that “a child’s best interests must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children. All adults should do what is best for children and should think about how their decisions will affect children. Determining what is in children’s best interests should take into account children’s own views and feelings”.

From my very preliminary research, home schooling is legal in Barbados. I am told however, that there are strict rules where parents must provide constant updates and they must stringently follow the curriculum established by the Ministry of Education. 

Aren’t there other cases where parents choose to push religious education rather than formal education with people of other religions? I have heard of quite a few stories where people do not and did not go through the formal school system.

This definitely does not make it right. However, fair is fair and if these parents have been exposed, why haven’t others been exposed? 

I read the reasons for the parents’ refusal to register their children into a formal primary school. Some parents also agreed with them on social media. Many highlighted the prevalence of bullying, sexual promiscuity and immorality. However, isn’t what is happening in the schools reflective of what is happening in society? 

We cannot shield our children from the ills of society forever. Eventually, they will have to face these very same evils. I suppose parents can only hope that they instill the appropriate values in their children to combat the pervasiveness of bullying, sexual promiscuity and immorality. 

Knowing full well that I have no children I always try to err on the side of caution when dishing my opinion on matters to do with children. Bajans love to “waylay” people’s children and remind them of when they said things before having children. 

Parenting is hard. How does one protect one’s child out of love without compromising on some other aspect. There is never a right answer. There is no right way. Every case differs. 

Balance is key and I hope that the parents are able to work with the courts and the Ministry to find the best solution for their children in the circumstances. 

 

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: [email protected]

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