Our children still deprived

Children have a fundamental right to protection from neglect, abuse and exploitation. However, evidence presented to this blog suggests that the State authorities are frequently guilty of neglect of children who have been abused or exploited, or are in urgent need of care.

Roving Children

Who deprived them of their rights? These out of school children roving beside the campus of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University -- are occupied on peering garbage that they can utilize in exchange for their survival.

AS A RESULT OF MASSIVE CORRUPTION in our society, the greater proportion of household coming from the poorest docile took their children out of school. Field studies conducted by Nebres (since 1997) revealed that more than half of the children who do not get to finish grade 6th actually drop out after the first or second grade – which means that at seven and eight years old, they are already condemned to a life of poverty.

A World Bank report claims that public elementary education is far from free. Families spend about 2% of total household expenditures on each child enrolled in a public elementary school. A fifth of this amount goes to miscellaneous fees and donations for the school’s upkeep. These fees are particularly high in the urban areas. Transportation accounts for about half of education expenses, and uniforms for about one fourth.

The report further claims that drop-outs are mostly from poor families. About three-fourths of the drop-outs belong to poor households. Two out of five Filipino children not in school are Mindanao residents. Boys tend to drop out more than girls. Of those children who drop out of elementary school, 60% do so in grades 4 and 5. Children drop out for health and economic reasons. Poor health (or disability) is the top reason for dropping out, followed by economic reasons, like the high cost of education, or the need for the child to work.

State Obligation to the Rights Holders

Traditionally governments have supplied property related services (such as road repairs, etc.) and have not had much involvement in “human services” such as effectively address the rights and welfare of children. The government (as “duty-holders” of development intervention is accountable with their obligation to provide the maximum available resources and by all appropriate means in the realization of human rights concerns) – should have the most information about particular needs of each community or the “claim-holders” of human rights intervention.

Indeed, the overall response from local government units (LGUs) as the tier of the State of each local community has been disappointing. Despite several announcing funding for children welfare and development, relatively few programs have actually been established. It is also totally unacceptable that funds which have been earmarked for children welfare programmes have been swallowed up in the LGU general budgets or simply used by executive department to top-up existing programmes.

The cost of not addressing effectively the children number of school drop-outs are very high. Relatively, these include the areas of health care, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and discrimination. This reality is extremely critical of State child welfare services for their failure to assist children in their care to develop effective living skills or to assist those leaving care to establish themselves in stable living situations. It appears that some LGUs have been negligent accessories to the death of children – from diseases which could have been avoided by effective programmes and timely responses; programmes and responses which LGUs can afford.

Promises to honor our children’s human rights are empty rhetoric if government service programmes are developed without the understanding and balance that the involvement of the community can bring. Disturbingly, the most critical factor in the tragic lives of deprived children is emotional and spiritual poverty, the lack of care, affection, love and attention, things that clearly demonstrates bureaucracies cannot deliver effectively.

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