Friday 20 November 2015

Universal Children's Day

<ahem!> that would be today . . . in Ireland; although I doubt if I could find 3 people in 100 at The Institute today who are aware of the fact. For the countries where the majority of my readers come from this week, Ireland is the only place which is obeying the United Nations' diktat about when we should celebrate the existence, and vindicate the rights, of children: United States (various); Ireland (today); China (01 Jun); United Kingdom (15 May); France (Epiphany 06 Jan); Germany (Der Westen: Weltkinderdag 20 Sep; Der Osten 01 Jun); Ukraine (День захисту дітей 01 Jun); Malaysia (07 Nov); Russia (01 Jun); Netherlands (Sinterklaas? 05 Dec).  You'll note that the communists and former communists go for 1st of June, so we definitely can't pick that for Universal Children's Day: all our kids will insist on wearing red neckerchiefs and singing the Internationale. [Billy Bragg background].  20 November celebrates the adoption by the UN of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. The declaration built on an earlier World Child Welfare Charter (1924) and was extended and updated in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child CROC. The full text in English.

That's great, who could object to the rights of children? The 1924 document had a handful of aspirational assertions, CROC is a mammoth charter with 41 Articles for the children and another 13 full of legalistic weasel-words to allow any signatory country to do whatever it feels like. Why, it's longer than the agreement you sign to sign up to Friendface or PayPal. It is useful therefore to put on your critical thinking hat before saying you agree.  For example, we in the home education movement were concerned when the Irish government started to cite CROC in the run up to the 'Children's Referendum' in 2012.  If CROC Article 28.1 States Parties recognize the right of the child to education . . . was to be adopted, who was to vindicate the rights of our children to an education?  Probably a Minister of Education, advised by the apparatchiks аппара́тчики of his department - none of whom had experienced home education or knew how to spell it.

If a camel looks like a horse designed by a committee [quote] then CROC looks like a document that has accreted all sorts of superfluous detail because the drafting committee were worn down by the insistence of special interest groups. " . . . the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents."  Breastfeeding? that's a good thing, but to specify it in the convention without also specifying the maintenance of a healthy intestinal flora ???
Article 28.1.(c) is the only place where water is mentioned: To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution; that's good, it deals with, say, Arsenic in the ground-water of Bangladesh but doesn't mention de-mineralisation by reverse-osmosis in Jordan.

Today, make sure you vindicate the rights of your children to help with the washing-up, cleaning the bathroom and making their own lunch.  And while they're at it they can make Dad's lunch as well. Thanks.

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