(November 20, 2020) Every child is entitled to be nurtured in a healthy, protective and supportive environment that allows for the realisation of the fullness of his or her potential.  We all have a duty to ensure such an environment is cultivated for our children.

World Children’s Day, observed each year on the 20th November, challenges us to reimagine a better future for our children.  The foundation for a better tomorrow must be built on promoting greater respect for and enforcement of children’s rights, providing adequate protection and care and strengthening children’s education.

The Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana is committed to promoting the rights of every child.  It has enacted keys pieces of legislation relevant to child care and child protection.  Guyana is also a signatory to international agreements such as United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and we wholeheartedly are committed to the rights and principles enunciated therein.

The protection and care of our children must be of foremost priority.  We propose to establish more child care programmes and centres.  More day-care centres will be established for the children of employed mothers.  These will relieve mothers of the burdens of having to find persons to take care of their children while they are at work. To support these initiatives, a corps of child care providers and protectors will be trained.

Child care and protection must become the responsibility of all of our society. We acknowledge the importance of child care services provided by private individuals, groups and non-governmental organizations.   Government will incentivize and provide support to those who provide such services.

The pandemic, unfortunately, has disrupted the provision of some of these services.  We are however confident that we will eventually see the remission of the pandemic and restoration of normalcy.

The pandemic has adversely affected our children’s lives.  For the greater part of this year, our schools have been closed.  The social restrictions which have been implemented, however, ought not to foreclose on opportunities for learning.  We have begun to expand these opportunities for children’s learning.

Education remains a key element of our plan to ensure a better future for our children.  Government has also, in a measured manner and with due regard to our children’s safety, reopened schools for students of Grades 10, 11 and 12.

We are not just reimagining a better future for our children, we are making it happen.  In this regard, we need the support of every citizen.

As we celebrate World Children’s Day 2020, I urge all Guyanese to join with your government in helping to promote the rights of the child, provide improved protection and care for them and to strengthen their education.

No child should suffer the indignities associated with violations of their rights or from a lack of a satisfactory education.  Let us join hearts and hands as we build a more caring and compassionate Guyana where our children can be happy, loved and be safe!  In doing so, we will be creating a supportive environment so that they can enjoy the best of what life has in store for them.

Thank you and happy Children’s Day.