samedi, mars 14, 2009

Creating awareness on the rights of indigenous children among youth

In the framework of the Earth Charter project we are implementing in Pointe-Noire, we are discussion themes and principles from the Earth Charter, so that young people start related clubs and could use it as a tool for activism in their local communities and schools.

Our team visited this Tuesday 03 March 2009 a school called Wisdom School, located in the district Mpaka 4 (Km8), a poor area of Pointe-Noire.

During that visit, students were waiting for us and my colleague, a member of the Earth Charter Group in Congo, Mouanda Vianney developped a theme on "asserting the rights of indigenous peoples, their spirituality, knowledge and resources and their traditional and sustainable livelihoods " with 22 students in grades 5th and 6th.

Before developing his theme, he made again a brief presentation of the project, explaining the term sustainable development and how everyone, including young people could contribute to the achievement of MDGs. The students, aged between 12 and 16 years, were listening actively and taking notes. Vianney took an example of the benches on which they were sitting. To this end, it was said that for children who will come next year, can use existing schools, they should use it responsibly without breaking.

Thereafter, after introducing children to the living conditions of indigenous people called pygmies in Congo, he explained that young people should enjoy the same rights as the Bantu and have access to education and healthcare. It should be noted that the speaker to adopt a participatory approach by asking children what they knew about indigenous people. Have they ever heard of pygmies?

They were asked to answer why only a few indigenous children has access to education in the country. The students were keen to respond : they are used to live in the forests, due to lack of financial resources to buy school materials, rejection, punishments from teachers, and hostility from their peers Bantu. Children concluded that indigenous children, so indigenous children rights are children rights that need to be protected.

At the end of the presentation, the children discussed their mini project based on the principles developed in the Earth Charter. They talke about setting up a library in their schools; that would help them to gain more knowledge by reading books. Others would like to have an essay contest and also how to use internetcafé meaningfully.

We replied that we will try to meet their demands but will certainly due to lack of more resources not support all the activities proposed. They need to choose one or two and budgetise for that. How would they be involved in the min project implementation and what they will gain from that is key.

The school’s director and her assistant were present, and thanked us for involving their students in this project. According to them now, this is an added value for the lessons they taught to students, as they are now informed about sustainable development and issues of indigenous and activism.

Extract from the report of the project using the Earth Charter as tool for activism for youth.

Roméo Mbengou
reporting from Pointe-Noire

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