Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Conventions, rights and no obligations

Don't ask me why, but I had a sudden urge this morning to read the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Yes, there are times when I think I am going mad as well.

Here is one chunk of it:
Article 28

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.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.

Yes, plenty of lovely motherhood statements in there about the right to this and the right to that. Nothing that any right-thinking tilty headed person could object to. Because we have to think of the children.

But where are the obligations? Where does it say that if the state makes education available to all, that the child has an obligation to attend? An obligation to turn up on time? To pay attention and to not disrupt the class? To knuckle down and learn?

I re-read the convention from top to bottom, and looked for fine print, but couldn't find anything in there about obligations. I guess I could search the fullstops to see if they are in fact microdots containing text regarding obligations, but I don't have all day you know.
Article 29

1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

Then we have Article 29. Boy, there is some good stuff in there. In part (e), the UN is essentially mandating that we have to teach kids to hug trees. What on earth are those people at the UN thinking? Why does this have to be part of a convention? When the UN was setup, did the founding fathers think that 50 years later, it would be telling education departments around the world what they could and could not teach?


I love part (c):

(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living,

I think that article of the convention is usually quietly forgotten about. Is there any education system in Australia where the schools are explicitly directed to teach children to respect their parents? I doubt it. Most of the leftist cant that passes for curriculums these days seems to be directed at undermining respect for parents and the national values of the country.

I'm glad I found this. Next time I am confronted by some sandal wearing, hemp be-decked soy-drinking "teacher", I will pull out this particular article and accuse him/her of "breaching the UN convention on the Rights of the Child". That should be sufficient to put the wind up them. God, can you imagine the look on the face of some mungbean eating, Socialist Left reading, bicycle riding weird beard when they are accused of breaching a UN convention? That would put them right up there with the likes of Slobodan Milosevic and George W Bush. Oh, the delicious irony.

Can't wait to try it out.
Article 30

In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.

I think Article 30 has been taken too far by some who believe that Aboriginal children should be educated in their own language, or that they have to grown up in remote townships in order to fully enjoy their culture.

The thing is, that's not true.

There's nothing wrong with blackfellas growing up learning the language of their parents. J's parents came from Croatia, so she grew up with a bit of Croatian at home. I bet all the wog kids around here grow up being fairly fluent in one of the wog languages. Most of J's cousins went to Croatian school on the weekends to work on their language skills.

The thing is though, whilst her parents wanted her to know enough Croatian to get by (ie, to be able to talk to the relatives still living in the old country), it was more important to them for her to be fully fluent and conversant in English. That's the only way to get ahead in this country, and I bet that the next generation of relatives growing up in Croatia will all be pretty fluent in English, so there will be no need for anyone living here to learn the language. It's only needed to speak to the old ducks.

My point is that her cousins, who all seem to be very fluent, learnt the language by going to a special school for a few hours each weekend. That's all you need to get a reasonably grip on a language. You don't need to be immersed in it 24 hours a day for 18 years. Which is why I don't see why Aboriginal kids need to stay in their remote townships in order to get an education. They should be able to go to a boarding school in say Darwin or Brisbane and then get language lessons during the holidays (when they are home) or on weekends (if they are at boarding school).

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