Belgium – Learn and re-create yourself: it's your fundamental right!

13 September 2019

(ANS - Brussels) - Don Bosco gave his street children as many learning and play opportunities as possible. Later, in 1948, such opportunities were registered as rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, how do we consider the right to education and leisure time? Can children and young people really use them? Two experts talk about it today: Bram Reekmans, of the Belgian Salesian NGO "VIA Don Bosco", and Fonny Grootjans of the international network of Salesian organizations "Don Bosco Youth-Net".

Why the right to education?

Bram: education is a fundamental right, like eating and drinking. It's our duty and that of every government to guarantee this right to children and young people. Education is also the engine for sustainable development. A study by the Financial Times has shown that investment in education has an effect on almost all other Sustainable Development Goals. If all the children of low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 170 million people would emerge from poverty; if all women in low and middle-income countries completed secondary education, the infant mortality rate would be halved.

Is this right respected?

Bram: According to UN data, over 265 million children and young people do not go to school, and more than half of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. The main causes are the cost of education and lack of resources, some disability, distance from school or lack of food or health. Girls have even less access to education.

What do you do to solve this problem?

Bram: VIA Don Bosco supports vocational training schools, occupational and entrepreneurial formation in Africa and Latin America. Every year 20,000 vulnerable girls and boys are given the opportunity to learn a profession and contribute to the development of their country.

Why a right to leisure time?

Fonny: the right to leisure time is foreseen in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 24) and in the list of Universal Children's Rights (art. 31). Games, sports and creative activities are very important for the development of a child. Don Bosco understood this well as his oratory was a magnet for recreation, play and sport.

Is this right respected?

Fonny: Ideally, there should be many safe play areas in every neighborhood and a wide range of recreational activities for children and young people, including children with disabilities. Furthermore, access to all these services should not depend on the parents' wallet ... In fact, this world does not yet exist.

What do you do to solve this problem?

Fonny: The DBYN promotes non-formal education in a playful and experiential way, offering young people the opportunity to develop various skills. In recent years we have expanded the concept of "Summerexchange of Animators", so young animators can have a primary experience in a summer camp abroad, developing intercultural skills and practicing a different language.  o 


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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