NASSAU, The Bahamas – Musical and dance selections, greetings and prayers by high-spirited primary school students marked the 2023 Universal Children’s Day service, November 21, at Church of God of Prophecy, East Street Tabernacle.
Hundreds of children from independent and public institutions, clad in colorful garments and/or uniforms participated in the celebration, also known as World Children’s Day and organized by the Primary Principals’ Association (PPA). Teachers, parents, senior education officials and members of the PPA were also on hand. The theme for the event was ‘For Every Child, Every Right: Invest in Our Future.’
Acting director of Education Dominique McCartney-Russell offered greetings and emphasized that it is everybody’s business to safeguard the nation’s children from violence, abuse, exploitation and forms of neglect.
She said, “The Bahamian village — our stakeholders, we must be vigilant, sober and alert to identifying all barriers and removing them. We must protect our children’s right to quality education. We must go back to the days when grandmothers sat on the porch observing the happenings in the neighborhood and speaking out when they saw something out of the norm. Yes, we considered them nosey, but they had very good intentions. Every child on the streets, especially during school hours or after hours, was subject to questioning and a call was made to a parent.
“This is a village and the challenges demand a village response. The church, the home, the school — we must all work together if we are to overcome the challenges.”
Permanent Secretary Lorraine Armbrister presented remarks on behalf of Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin. She gave an overview of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Education 2030 Frame Work for Action adopted in a high level meeting alongside the 38th UNESCO General Conference.
Speaking to the relevance of the theme and observations of injustices done to children, Mrs. Armbrister announced the establishment of 2 hotlines in New Providence and Grand Bahama for persons to report incidents of “children in distress” to education officials.
Said Mrs. Armbrister, “. . . In too many instances we have allowed technology and the advancement of social media and the like to shape the conscience and character of our children. Digital screens continue to flash before them inculcating distasteful values while they have access to over 400 television stations, Youtube channels and Tiktok. We must fight for the souls of our little treasures. We must fight for every child, for every right.”
In a message to the students, Rev. Dr. Diana Francis, Pastor, First Baptist Church, told the children that they are treasures, they are a powerful part of the future, they will bring pleasure and they are to be the best students they can be.
“Though the weather you are to stand strong, take a licking and keep on ticking,” said Rev. Francis.