Children's best interests ignored by govt, teachers'
MBABANE – Save the Children blames government and teachers for not taking the best interest of the child into paramount consideration.
The organisation said as a country that subscribes to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child of 1990, it should give children the right to development which is intrinsically linked to quality education as a child develops mainly through education.
"We have observed with concern the degenerating state of affairs that prevails in the education sector of which the public was apprised and kept abreast by the media ever since it started. The unravelling of relations between teachers and the government has not escaped our notice. The negative impact this has had on the right to education of Swazi children has caused untold concern. We had hoped and waited with baited breath for an amicable resolution to this stalemate, but differences still exist between the two parties," reads a statement issued by the organisation.
Save the Children is of the view that it is therefore imperative that any action taken by anyone, be it a teacher or the government, that could potentially have a bearing on a child’s life, bear in mind the consequences that action will have on the child.
The statement called both parties to exercise responsible citizenship and find an amicable and practical way forward to ensure that quality education for all children is not compromised.
"The strike action by teachers and the retaliatory firing of teachers by government should be looked at diligently in light of the foregoing. If the above actions jeopardise the right of the child to quality education it is incumbent upon both parties to seek alternative resolutions to amicably resolve their differences and ensure that the best interest of the child is at the centre," further reads the statement.
They said quality education for a child was a fundamental human right.
"The attainment of this right ensures the ability of the child to change his/her world for the better and can only bear positive fruit for the country at large if respected.
"Teachers are predominantly tasked with this onerous and mammoth duty to ensure that they mould these young minds to be responsible citizens of tomorrow.
The organisation, whose core mandate is the advancement of children’s rights has a vision of a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.
"We are not oblivious to the fact that at the bottom of these differences are bread and butter issues; teachers are requesting a salary increment due to the fact that these are extremely difficult and challenging times for all citizens. In addition we have seen the introduction of additional taxes which digs deeper into people’s pockets and this coupled with high inflation rates makes people’s economic situation extremely difficult.
"It is our fervent plea as an organisation that these parties communicate with each other and arrive at a solution that will avert what has become an education crisis."
Education Principal Secretary Pat Muir said, "We respect the right of the child. However there are things that may happen that may affect a child but not deliberately." He said the ministry was doing its best to restore the situation because it has the interest of the child at heart.
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