|To:||The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Box 9041, Station Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
|Honourable Peter Fassbender
Minister of Education
PO Box 9045, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
100 – 550 West 6th Ave
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2
From: Robert Ford
Cc: My blog – www.robertfordfiction.com/blog
Re: Children’s Rights
Date: October 27, 2014
Now that school is underway and my two children are settled I have taken a moment to reflect. With the immediate stress of the strike/lockout gone, I have examined my feelings of frustration with the treatment of children during the strike/lockout. I’ve concluded these feelings are still valid and logical.
The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child has a section on Education. The full text is at this site (http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx) and the relevant section is here:
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
Honestly. For 1(a), I don’t think the authors had anywhere in their heads a proviso that said, “unless of course there’s a contract dispute, then keep primary kids out of school as long as you need.”
When I saw on CTV pieces about children in the Eastern Ukraine going back to school and a G&M piece about children in Gaza going back to school, I felt profound shame. Shame and embarrassment that I hope you also experienced.
Yes, the right to strike is important. Yes, striving to keep public spending under control is important.
But do either of these trump the right of children to be educated? I think not. The reason is that the children themselves cannot take to the streets and protest or file lawsuits. Collectively parents, politicians, union leaders, teachers, principals, support staff, etc. are expected to make sure children are educated.
“It was only a few weeks.” “If the union had been more reasonable.” “If the government had brought more to the table.” Variants of these thoughts are likely in your minds. They’re excuses. They don’t cut it.
Remember, the children in school today will, in the future, be at our hospital beds and they will be adjusting our meds and changing our soiled garments.
What are you doing to make sure these children will want to do the work? How are you going to adjust the bargaining process so that we never go through something like September 2014 again?