By Staff Reporter
The second session of the country’s Children’s Parliament ended last week.
Here follows a summary of their debates and discussions in the National Assembly
The Second Session of the Children’s Parliament of the Republic of Namibia led by Speaker Sharonice Busch and deputized by Timoteus Angala was held at the National Assembly Chambers from 6-9 May 2008 under the theme:
Parliament: The People’s House and Guardian of Children’s Rights and Future.
Forty-two learners, three each from the 13 regions and three junior councilors from the City of Windhoek participated.
Furthermore, the session was attended by the former Speaker of the First Children’s Parliament, Bronson Tjihukununa, Deputy Speaker Meryam Nghidipo and Clever Mapaura, Executive Speaker of the University of Namibia.
Speaker Busch invited Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab to address the House. Speaker Gurirab in his address focused on five principal areas.
Future Role of Present Generation and Participants
Speaker Gurirab observed that each youth and children are called upon, by circumstances of their times, to think, plan and act in ways that will transform their hopes and actions into practical realities. The future is always full of challenges but also of opportunities. Those who prepare themselves to become winners usually tend to reach their goals, than others who rely on lucky chances without sweat, the Speaker noted. Each morning and each day presents its moment for planning. It is not enough to wish for success and tomorrow’s better life without preparation, focus and action.
Future Statutory Status of Children’s Parliament
Secondly, Speaker Gurirab noted a commitment to be made at a personal level by all stakeholders, to continue with this worthy project. He also expressed the hope that in the near future, not too long down the road, Parliament, as a whole, will find a lasting arrangement for the Children’s Parliament.
Millennium Development Goals
Thirdly, Speaker Gurirab highlighted the eight MDGs adopted by the Millennium Session of the United Nations General Assembly to reduce world poverty and hasten development. These goals aim to improve conditions of trade, investment and economic cooperation between rich and poor nations of the world. The bottom line is to end wars, poverty and to create prosperity for all. These goals are:
– Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
– Achieve universal primary education;
– Promote gender equality and empower women;
– Reduce child mortality;
– Improve maternal health;
– Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
– Ensure environmental sustainability; and,
– Develop a global partnership development.
The Born-free Generation’s Role in Society
The fourth aspect dealt with by Speaker Gurirab concerned the future of the born-free generation. He remarked that this group stands on the point of transition. He related that Namibia as a nation is rearranging interaction with children in the interest of both sides and that many of the participants here and others outside of this Assembly will vote for the first time next year in Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Finally Speaker Gurirab dealt with Gender Equality. He urged young women and girls to never have to wait at the back of the queue to allow young men and boys to go ahead first. Rather, the females must see to it and demonstrate that they are up to any challenge or any promising opportunity to make their own contributions for change, gender equality and social development wherever they are. To be a fine lady, a beautiful girl or a loving mother doesn’t mean taking humiliating abuse from men, never! “You are entitled to your rights for being humans and deserving citizens who count on the authority of our constitution for encouragement and protection,” he said.
Councillor Elsabe van Vuuren, Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek also addressed the Assembly. In her address Councillor van Vuuren observed that the 14th to 18th May 2007 marked a historical moment when the First Session of the First Children’s Parliament was held in Windhoek. She urged members to be polite and truthful in their deliberations. They should show commitment, passion and responsibility to join hands with the leaders and get practical solutions on issues affecting the country.
Clever Mapaure, the Executive Speaker of the University of Namibia Student Parliament in his address said the Second Session of the Children’s Parliament began in an environment of positive developments with a potential to make a permanent impact on Namibia’s socio-economic, political and legal landscape.
He mentioned that the formation of the Children’s Parliament was welcomed by the Namibian people, especially the youth as it gives realization to the right to assemble and express oneself in the political process of a progressive democratic and open society as encouraged by the Namibian Constitution.
He said that the Children’s Parliament is a demonstration of how progressive political and legislative beings think in Namibia.
Rushman Murtaza, Officer in Charge of UNICEF (Namibia), in her presentation thanked Parliament for its seriousness about the importance of children’s participation in the decision-making process. She thanked the young legislators for having travelled long distances to make their presence felt in the law-making process.
Murtaza informed the new members that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of the most critical UN documents enshrining the rights of children particularly that of participation. Children’s participation should be incorporated in educational systems in order to equip them with the necessary skills for expressing themselves openly and frankly at an early stage. She encouraged the young parliamentarians to grow up as responsible and active citizens who are ready to lead the nation.
Businesswoman Monica Kalondo narrated personal lessons about several aspects from her childhood of being youthful and having determination. She drew heavily on her own experiences and her tertiary education. It was a reflective and inspiring presentation putting dreams into practice and hopes, focus and perseverance on the front burner.
Daniel Motinga, Senior Manager at FNB Namibia Holdings, covered aspects of the macroeconomic situation and how it impacts on Namibia in the global context. Learner MPs would gain insight from following global market trends and how this affects the daily bread and butter issues.
Nangolo Mbumba, Minister of Education, in his address to the Assembly congratulated the Honourable Junior Members on their election to the Second Children’s Parliament. He encouraged them to take their education seriously.
In addition, he urged all learners nationwide to study seriously as it is an opportunity to change their lives for the better. He emphasized the importance of discipline and obedience and encouraged learners to avoid all obstacles that might negatively influence their studies.
He urged them to look at other national leaders and emulate how they achieved success from modest beginnings. He said that this was achieved not because of luck but by sheer determination and hard work. These are exemplary achievements which children must emulate. Mbumba wished them good luck in their deliberations.
Second Session of the Children’s Parliament tabled 26 motions for debate of which 21 were adopted.
Motion on crime perpetrated by young people.
The Children’s Parliament confirmed that this was a serious social problem which needs serious attention. The main causes identified were poverty, joblessness and abuse of alcohol.
Motion on unconstitutional use of corporal punishment in schools.
The concern was raised that there are still schools that violate this constitutional prohibition. Therefore, the Minister of Education was requested to put necessary measures in place to bring this violation to an end.
Motion on Grade 10 repeaters.
The Assembly acknowledged that this matter was of national concern and was debated in various fora before. It was agreed that Grade 10 dropouts should be allowed to repeat if possible. However, the Assembly urged the Government to investigate establishing institutions like multi-career or vocational training centres in the various regions to accommodate these dropouts.
Motion on child labour.
The debate raised the issue of children being employed while under age. It was resolved that child labour was against the law. Children should be allowed to do casual work only to earn a living.
Motion on poor services at hospitals.
It was agreed that this is a serious problem which has already caused the death of many patients. It was resolved that the supervision at hospitals should be improved.
Motion on bullying of learners
It was resolved that an investigation should be launched why bullies bully other children. It was agreed that bullying should be reported to principals.
Further, parents of the bullies should be called in if necessary. Social services therefore should be provided to those being bullied.
Motion on the unavailability and access to libraries in rural areas.
This issue was pointed out as a need at some of the schools and communities. Consequently, Government is urged to alleviate this need.
Motion on the recruitment of foreign teachers at the expense of trained Namibian teachers.
This matter was a general concern for members. It was proposed that foreign teachers be hired to train Namibian teachers or to teach subjects where local teachers are not available. Consideration should be given to send local teachers for further training in subjects where there are teacher shortages.
Motion on indisciplined learners.
Consideration should be given that indisciplined learners should be punished by alternative penalties, and be restricted from sporting activities.
Furthermore, in cases of indisciplined learners parents should also be informed. In addition, the parents should be called in and spoken to by the principals. Further, the Assembly proposed that a system of reward should be put in place for disciplined learners.
Motion on increasing number of school dropouts.
The concern was expressed regarding the high rate of school dropouts. It was agreed that children should be made aware of the importance of education through educational talks and intervention by social workers.
Motion on the future of the Children’s Parliament.
The members expressed their wish to be informed well in advance regarding their participation in the Children’s Parliament and a fixed channel of election of participants should be established such as through junior councils. This will allow them to do consultations with their fellow schoolmates in the regions. Therefore it is recommended that the Children’s Parliament should become a permanent feature on the Parliamentary Calendar.
Motion on teachers not performing.
The meeting agreed that non-performing teachers should be reported to the principals and school inspectors for disciplinary measure against them. The Assembly further urged that teachers should take their jobs seriously and that competitive salary packages be considered.
Motion on schoolgirls to return to school after delivery.
The majority of members were in favour of this motion that school girls be allowed to return to school after delivery. However, it was the considered view of the Assembly that such pregnancy be allowed for the first time and that on return to school, measurable parenting and care of the newborn child be put in place.
Motion on favouritism in admitting learners to higher training.
The concern was expressed that favouritism is being used when admitting learners to higher learning institutions. The Assembly agreed that a central educational body be established to deal with admissions.
Motion on the need for appointment of social councillors at schools.
The resolution was adopted that the Ministry of Education should consider appointing social councillors where possible.
Motion on destroying of the ozone layer and what projects or what youth can do to prevent the destruction of the ozone layer.
The members agreed that Government and community leaders together with the youth establish youth clubs/community clubs to create awareness about this matter. The focus should be on ways of combating this by taking it to the regions.
Motion on poor school infrastructure.
The concern was raised regarding the poor infrastructures in certain regions. The Assembly agreed that school principals and community leaders should intervene to urge the political representatives and Government to correct the situation.
Motion on the lack of doctors in Namibia and how young Namibians can be assisted to study in this field. It was agreed that Government and the private sector provide bursaries for those who want to study in this field. The youth should be encouraged to take subjects which will allow them to study and qualify as medical doctors.
Motion on alcohol abuse among learners.
The members resolved that shebeen/bar owners should not be allowed to sell liquor to children under the age of 18, and the rules should be applied strictly. An emergency number to call the police should be availed to the communities to call the police when liquor is sold to the under-aged. The youth should make it their task to educate others about the dangers of using alcohol. In addition, the Assembly resolved that when children and youth buy alcohol the owners should be required to ask proof of age and that by-laws be promulgated to control opening hours. The assembly also called on adults not to buy alcohol for children under the age of 18.
Indigenous languages in schools.
The Assembly supported the general idea of having indige-nous languages in addition to the national language which is English. This however should be implemented where the need arises and in consultation with the communities.
Motion on arts and culture in schools.
It was agreed that the Government should implement in secondary schools training in arts and culture as a choice subject and that it be taught by qualified teachers. This would create employment for talented people.
The motion on the effects of floods on learners in the north and north-eastern regions was rejected as it was the view of the House that Government has put measures in place and are enjoying attention.
The motion on the unfair treatment of learners in Windhoek and others in the rural areas was withdrawn by the mover.
The motion on the issue of uninformed electricity cuts and what effects they have on the users was withdrawn by the mover.
The motion on how best possible unwanted pregnancies can be prevented among school-going children was withdrawn by the mover.
The motion on the suspension of learners from the school was withdrawn by the mover.