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“Pre-test” was a human rights violation


Jonteau Coppin

“Pre-test” was a human rights violation
UWI lecturer Felicia Dujon delivers the Astor B. Watts Lunchtime lecture. (GP)

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The controversial “pre-test” questionnaire was a breach in parental rights by the State.

That was the assessment of Felicia Dujon speaking during a lunchtime lecture hosted at the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headquarters in George Street, Belleville on Friday.

This lunchtime lecture came days after Minister of Education Kay McConney, flanked by Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Bradshaw held a press conference at the Ministry’s Constitution Road Headquarters in Bridgetown to apologise to the nation for the Inter-American Development Bank questionnaire and state what would happen after the public fallout.

Dujon, a Philosophy lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, said that in order for the parental rights to be safeguarded, the children rights need to be included as well.

“It’s very important that when we speak about parental rights, we also speak about children’s rights. . . In order for us to protect children, we have to protect the rights of the parents and make sure that those rights are very clear so that we don’t have all those kinds of discrepancies in the law.”

The Human Rights Advocate added: “Those types of infringements are detrimental. If we allow those types of infringements to continue, if we allow children’s rights to be violated, then what is next? After all, if they can violate children’s rights, who are we? We have to think very deeply and very passionately about our parental rights, our rights as citizens. It’s not just parents in this situation, it is all of us, because every single one of those children are our children as well.”

During the lunchtime lecture presentation, Dujon highlighted The Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly Article 5 and Article 16, 1 and 2.

Article 5 of the convention in question states “Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognised in the present Convention.”

Article 16 states “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Dujon lauded the children who sounded the alarm on the inappropriate questions and urged parents to give them full support.

After the fallout of the questionnaire, a committee made up of various stakeholders including legal advisors and Ministry officials is going to be tasked with developing the data collection and ethics policy with urgency. Upon completion of the policy, it will be vetted by a soon to be established ethics committee that was first announced by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley on October 7. (JC)