45 Child Councilors debate motions on child-related issues with government officials and legislators

 

45 Child Councilors debate motions on child-related issues with government officials and legislators

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HONG KONG, 19 November 2011 – Today, 45 Child Councilors debated three motions formulated by themselves, including: The government should review existing education policies to enhance the Chinese proficiency of students of South Asian ethnic origin; The government should address the serious issue of the cyber-bullying of children; and The government should protect children’s right to participation in their parents’ divorce with government officials and legislators. Representatives from Education Bureau, Social Welfare Department, Equal Opportunities Commission and Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, NGOs, academics, together with Legislative Councilors, including: Mr Cheung Kwok Che, Ms Miriam Lau Kin Yee, Ms Emily Lau Wai Hing, Mr Alan Leong Kah Kit, Dr Hon Samson Tam Wai Ho, and Mr James To Kun Sun were present to exchange views with Child Councilors.

The meeting held at the Council Chamber of The University of Hong Kong, with reference to the rules and procedures of the Legislative Council. The 45 Child Councilors, aged from 12 to 17, were divided into three groups. Representatives from each group first moved the motions on the child-related issues, followed by an intense debate with other Child Councilors, and a Q & A session with government officials, Legislative Councilors and other panel guests. The Child Councilors present in the meeting then voted to determine the passage on a motion.

Regarding the first motion, The government should review existing education policies to enhance the Chinese proficiency of students of South Asian ethnic origin, Child Councilors are of the opinion that children of South Asian ethnic origin in Hong Kong can hardly join the mainstream education as they are unfamiliar with Chinese, and their right to development is being neglected. The Child Councilors thus suggested that Education Bureau set up teacher training programmes for teaching Chinese bilingually and compile bilingual textbooks for the students to learn Chinese more effectively.

In light of the rising trend of cyber-bullying which children’s right to protection is undermined, Child Councilors moved the second motion, The government should address the serious issue of the cyber-bullying of children. Child Councilors proposed increasing hotline services, online counselling by social workers and review of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to strengthen the legal protection of the victims of cyber-bullying.

With reference to the third motion, The government should protect children’s right to participation in their parents’ divorce, Child Councilors pointed out current judicial system in Hong Kong lacks thorough consideration of children’s right to express their own view on their parents’ divorce is a violation of children’s right to participation. Child Councilors recommended the authorities concerned formulate guidelines, requesting judges to consult children if they have any views during the divorce proceedings and provide channels for children to express their views directly or indirectly, for example, writing letters.

After the meeting, all the Child Councilors and honourable guests participated at the Closing Ceremony. With the presence of the President of the Legislative Council, Mr Jasper Tsang Yok Sing as the Guest of Honour, the Ceremony marked the successful completion of the Children’s Council in its eighth year. During the motion preparation in the past four months, Child Councilors had over 30 group meetings; they also conducted 19 interviews with government officials, legislators and people from various sectors; collected views from about 2,000 children through questionnaires; along with desk top researches to prepare the three motions that will be compiled into a publication. The publications will be sent to the authorities concerned, and child-related organisations for government and society’s consideration and reference.

About the Children’s Council project:
Against Child Abuse, Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights and Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF have joined hands since 2000 to promote the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and children’s rights in Hong Kong. In 2002, the first Children’s Council of Hong Kong was established for children to step into the shoes of legislators to discuss and debate issues relating to children’s rights and fight for the rights of children. The Children’s Council project is sponsored by the HKSAR government and supported by Kids’ Dream, the first child-led organisation in Hong Kong. Over the years, 25 child-related motions have been discussed.For more information, please visit the official website of Children’s Council.

About the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC):
The United Nations General Assembly declared 20 November as the Universal Children’s Day in 1959 when the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was passed. This marked the beginning of the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child(UNCRC) that has benefited children from all over the world of different background, status, religion, race and situation. The UNCRC, has now become the most widely adopted treaty by world nations, and was extended to Hong Kong in 1994. States Parties to the UNCRC are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child, better international programmes striving for children’s well-being and support the work to protect children under particular conditions.