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Society’s heart is judged by the way it treats children

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Sri Lanka is caught up in crisis after crisis, controversy after controversy and chaotic confusion as to who is doing what and who is not doing what. Unfortunately, we do not have a statesperson who works for the next generation and not for the next election. It is widely accepted that a good family makes a good society but most of our families have been plunged into turmoil mainly because of the virtual breakdown in the education system and the children suffering due to timetables being overturned. Some schools are functioning daily, some once in two days while others have cut down on the number of classes and some are still functioning online. 


Children are part of the next generation and that is why the United Nations every year celebrates World Children’s Day to promote international togetherness, awareness among children and improve children’s welfare. In a statement the UN points out that November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. World Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children’s rights.


Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls, media professionals, young people and children themselves could play an important part in making the World children’s movement  relevant for their societies, communities and nations, the UN says. The world children’s movement offers each of us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.
The present theme is “A better future for every child”. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how inequality affects the rights of every child. From climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future. ”. We need to support the youth advocating for child rights. It is more important than ever that the leaders listen to their ideas and demands.


In the aftermath of World War II, the plight of the world’s children was grave, and a new agency was created by the United Nations which stepped in to provide food and clothing and health care to these children. In 1953, the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) became a permanent part of the UN. Today, the agency works in more than 190 countries and territories, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of  children, everywhere.


The Rights of the Child Convention is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. It sets out a number of children’s rights including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence, to not be discriminated, and to have their views heard. On the basis of the Convention and joint efforts by all the countries and regions, we need to promote and celebrate children’s rights and continuously build up a friendly environment for children in the world through dialogue and actions.


The UN says that every child has the right to health, education and protection, and every society has a stake in expanding children’s opportunities in life. Yet, around the world, millions of children are denied a fair chance for no reason other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born. Poverty affects children disproportionately. Around the world, one out of six children lives in extreme poverty, living on less than US$1.90 a day. Their families struggle to afford the basic health care and nutrition needed to provide them a strong start.

These deprivations leave a lasting imprint; in 2019, 149 million children under the age of five were stunted. Despite great progress in school enrolment in many parts of the world, more than 175 million children are not enrolled in pre-primary education, missing a critical investment opportunity and suffering deep inequalities from the start. 6 out of 10 leave primary school without achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, according to a 2017 UNESCO report. This challenge is compounded by the increasingly protracted nature of armed conflict.
One of the world’s greatest statesmen Nelson Mandela has said there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. Famous evangelist Billy Graham has said the greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.

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