By WILLIE BRUL
The Government must urgently listen to the voice of children in order to make their dreams become reality so that they may have a better future free from harm and poverty.
General Manager of Cheshire Home, Bernard Ayeko expressed this sentiment during the International Children’s Day celebration at Hohola Cheshire centre on Wed.
Mr Ayeko said children should express their opinions and rights freely and the government, policymakers, NGOs, churches and people must take into consideration their needs and problems before catering for their education and welfare.
“During this special International Children’s Day our children from the Cheshire Home disability centre and mainstream schools come together to commemorate as they want to express their voice to the government and adult people. Let’s sit back, listen to them and do what they want us to do for them,” Mr Ayeko said this to the applause of more than 70 students from Cheshire Home special inclusive education school, Sacred Heart Primary and St Michael Primary schools who participated in painting banners to express their message to the government.
Students were given this question to express their views: “’Sapos yu tok tok wantaim Praim Minista bliong yu, wanem samting bai yu tokim em?” (If you speak with your Prime Minister, what will you tell him?)
The students, together with teachers from Cheshire Home disability centre, Sacred Heart and St Michael primaries, representatives from Save the Children, Child Fund and World Vision, have written on the banners what they think the Government and people of PNG can do for them.
Some of the expressions they written include right to education, information, family protection, and free from all forms of violence and exploitation including labour, human trafficking, and prostitution among others.
Meanwhile, Isabella Kila, a final year law student from the University of Papua New Guinea who attended elementary at special inclusive school at Cheshire Home from 2001 to 2004, said article 23 of the United Nations conventions on the rights of children stipulates that children with a disability have a right to special education and care.
“The government must construct building infrastructure and facilities that are conducive and accessible to both able-bodied and students with disabilities because they all have equal rights to education,’’ she said.