A law student attending the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), has expressed concern with certain aspects of the proposed amendments to the Human Rights and Freedoms Bill, which states that “a child is a child and all children are equal”.
The student pointed to what she saw as an anomaly in the law since on one hand it provides an education of up to 16 years to every normal child attending public funded schools and18 years for children with disabilities.
The student sought an explanation for the two year gap as provided in the bill which is one of seven to go before the electorate in the October 27 Referendum on Constitutional Reform in Grenada.
The issue came up during a Constitution talk session held by the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) last week Thursday at the Public Workers Union building, Tanteen, St. George.
The student noted that “Section 13B. (1) of the Human Rights and Freedoms Bill (states that) every child up to 16 years of age, who is a citizen of Grenada shall have the right to public funded education in educational institutions owned or funded by the State, (while) Section 13B (4) (states that) “every child with a disability shall have the right to public funded education in accordance with his special needs up to eighteen years of age”.
She told the panel: “…A child is a child and all children are equal.
I would like to know how the age difference came about”.
In response to the question, Chairman of the government-appointed Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), Dr. Francis Alexis QC, said that “a child is a child is (already) enacted in an ordinary act of 1991” and it was important to have it entrenched in the Constitution.
According to Dr. Alexis, the intention is to safeguard the “child is a child” legislation against “alteration or abolishment by an ordinary act and that is very important.”
He stated that “there can be no scientific answer as to how the age difference came about” and offered an explanation that “because a child is disabled (he or she) may be entitled to more time in the learning environment”.
THE NEW TODAY posed a related question to Dr. Alexis as to what will happen if a child does not complete his or her education in the stipulated time.
He said that “other measures” would have to be put in place to address this issue.
President of the Grenada Bar Association (GBA), Guyana-born Anande Trotman-Joseph who also addressed the issue, pointed out that the intention of the legislation is “to make sure that every child has a right to quality education”.
She said that not many countries around the world including developing states have free education for children past the primary school level.
The Constitution talk event saw presentations being made by Dr. Alexis, as well as Dr. Lawrence Joseph, Attorney-at-law, George Prime, Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip and immediate past president of GBA, Ruggles Ferguson who is a member of CRAC.
Vice President of GBA, former Attorney General, Rohan Phillip, said the event provided an opportunity for the bar to get involved in the Constitutional Reform process.
“We intend over the next couple of weeks to intensify the Bar’s involvement in the process”, he added.
Grenadians are expected to vote in the country’s first referendum on October 27.