"Northeast children's rights affected"- UNICEF representative
[TamilNet, Sunday, 20 January 2002, 00:59 GMT]
"It has been estimated that about 14 percent of children between age 5 and 14 do not attend school in Sri Lanka. This is a national average and we all know that non-attendance in many areas in the northeast province is much higher. In some areas as many as one out of five children do not attend schools," said Ms Elroy Gabrielle, UNICEF resident representative, Saturday evening addressing the second day North East Provincial Tamil Literary Festival at Trincomalee St.Joseph's College auditorium.
Ms Gabrielle ceremonially released a cassette with songs about children's rights produced by the Provincial Ministry of Education. The cassette aims at spreading the message of children's rights.
She said: "UNICEF is co-operating with the Provincial Ministry of Education to ensure every child's right to education. Part of this process includes the raising of awareness on children's rights.
"Education is one of the most fundamental rights of a child. Unfortunately a lot of children do not have their right to education fulfilled.
"Non school going children tend to come from already disadvantaged families, and not going to schools make them more vulnerable. Education is therefore a necessary first step to protect all rights of children," Ms Gabrielle stressed.
Meanwhile the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in its latest regional report quoting non-governmental sources states "the level of malnutrition among students in the Trincomalee district is very high. Majority of them do not have proper medical facilities. Hence higher dropout rate could be noticed in schools in Trincomalee district."