A report on child rights in GuatemalaTue, 07/04/2017 - 08:51 | Melanie Sutter
Marlene Grajeda is the new Education Officer in Guatemala and started working for the Pestalozzi Children's Foundation two months ago. She recently visited the UN Comission on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. In this interview, she reports on her visit to the United Nations (UN) and what she did there.
Why did you visit the UN in Geneva?
I went to Geneva with six other delegates to submit Guatemala's Alternative Report to the UN Comission on the Rights of the Child. We all belong to Red Niña Niño, a network of various non-governmental organisations in Guatemala. All of these organisations promote child and human rights and are a part of civil society. The Pestalozzi Children's Foundation is also a member of this network.
What is the Alternative Report and what is its purpose?
Guatemala's Alternative Report is a report on the current situation regarding child rights in the country that is compiled by the civilian population. With this report, we wish to make it clear that there are still problems with child rights in our country. In effect, it is the counter-report to the official report issued by the country's government. The official report contains the current facts and figures on the different rights of children in Guatemala.
What were the key messages of this report?
The Alternative Report for Guatemala focuses on four key messages:
- Violation of child rights
- Children's right to protection
- Nutrition and exploitation
- Children's right to participate in communities
In Guatemala, all of these issues need to be addressed and improved or prevented.
What do you plan to do next with the Alternative Report?
We submitted the report and the UN Comission then identified the issues that are most urgent and should be addressed by the government. The government will present its official report in January 2018. We are allowed to attend this presentation as observers.
Which issues identified in the report should the government address most urgently?
Firstly, the government should support the protective system for children. There are ongoing discussions in Guatemala about a new law that should strengthen the protective system for children. Secondly, the children must be supported by the government. Currently, every child gets one dollar a day. This money has to cover all child rights: enough to eat, access to education, a roof over their heads, etc. This amount should be increased to two dollars.
In addition, access to food and medical care should be improved. Many people in Guatemala have no access to any of these resources. The last issue is the quality of education. It is important to promote bilingual teaching. Many children in Guatemala grow up speaking their indigenous mother tongue. When they go to school, they cannot understand anything because Spanish is spoken in the schools. The goal is to teach the children in Spanish as well as in their mother tongue.
How do you see the current situation in Guatemala?
The situation in Guatemala is precarious. Fifty percent of the children between 0 to 6 years suffer from chronic undernourishment. The number of children who can go to school has gone down in the past few years because the government has cut its budget for education.