Violation of the child’s right

Grenadians need to be proactive about issues that are affecting us. We are too passive and complacent. We have the tendency to just sit back and allow people in authority to take advantage of us and we just talk, but do nothing to demand respect and that our rights are not violated.

The Education Act is the law which governs education in Grenada. It makes provision for the delivery of education service and clearly states that, “all persons in Grenada are entitled to receive an education appropriate to their needs.” It further states that, “The Chief Education Officer MUST provide for every person of compulsory school age who resides in Grenada an educational programme consistent with the requirement of the act at a public school or at an assisted private school.

If a student is directed to enroll in a private school, government must pay the fees and other cost of enrollment and that no student should be refused admission on discriminatory grounds.”

Section 41 states that, “It is the duty of parents of every child of compulsory school age to cause the child to attend school regularly.” If the parents of the child fail to send a child to school regularly, the law (section 43) gives the School Attendant Officer the authority to enter homes to make enquiries. If the parent fails to send the child to school without any valid reason the School Attendant Officer has the legal authority to take the parent/parents to court and they can be fined $1500.00 or be sent to prison for three months.

Why then is the Ministry of Education violating the Law which it is responsible to enforce? Why is the student with the unfortunate incident at one of the secondary schools in St George’s denied her right to an education?

No one is condoning the incident which caused the death of another student. Violence in schools should not be tolerated whether it causes injury or not. What she did was wrong and the High Court already gave its verdict. Whether we are happy or unhappy with the verdict that is not the issue.

Many of us were not happy with the release of those accused of murdering Maurice Bishop but they are out and are not a threat to society. There is no reason to conclude that this child will be a threat to the society either.

In fact, she has been interacting with many of her peers and they are not afraid of her. The real issue here is the Ministry of Education is duty bound to provide an education for this child and while they are mandated to uphold the law they are guilty of breaking it.

What is even worse is that institutions such as Social Services, Child Protection Authority and the National Coalition on the Rights of the Child which should be protecting the rights of children are all very silent on this issue. Both the Child Protection Authority and GNCRC were very vocal with the issue between the police officer and the disrespectful student on the bus terminus. No child has the right to disrespect authority and children need to be corrected when they are wrong but their action gave the impression that the student had the right to be disrespectful to the police officer. Why then are they quiet on this issue?

The GNCRC responsibility is to ensure that Grenada adheres to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 28 states that each child has the right to an education. Why isn’t GNCRC ensuring that the right of this child to continue her education is not violated? Where is the Ministry of Youth and all the child rights activists? Why are they quiet on this issue? Is it because the child is from a poor family?

The Child Protection Authority is always quick to take action against parents when reports of abuse are made. Are you afraid to act now because it is a state institution and your friends or colleagues are the abusers?

The future of a child is at stake – it is time to take action.

C. Lewis

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