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Seventh Ibero-American NGO Forum for Children and Adolescents

14/07/2010: Argentina

The seventh Ibero-American NGO Forum for Children and Adolescents took place on June 21 and 22 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Forum was assisted and supported by FMSI (Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale). Three representatives attended from Brazil: Brother Vicente Falqueto of Brazil Centro Norte Province, Mrs. Monica Kondziolkova from the Marist Union of Brazil, and Viviane Aparecieda da Silva of Brazil Centro-Sul Province. In addition two representatives came from the FMS Province of Cruz del Sur: Fernando Larrambebere, Director of the Solidarity Office of the Marist Brothers Province of Cruz del Sur (Argentina and Uruguay). The Solidarity Office forms a part of the Province structures responsible for the administration and management of Province works; and the coordinator of « Casa Marista » Cecilia Varela, who works with children at risk in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Coming from nineteen countries and representing various institutions that defend the rights of children and adolescents, the participants treated the topic of Education for Integration into Society. Vernor Munoz, a UN special contact on educational rights pointed out in his conference how a patriarchal society can be responsible for a hierarchy-based education in which it is difficult for the voices of children and adolescents to receive their proper weight. The speaker said that integration is not a pedagogical process but something to be put into effect continuously. We need to re-think what a school is: in its totality, in a spirit of education-as-process that helps the learner integrate everything into a whole, and not an education that sees the various components each one a discrete unit.

The Forum participants work in three commissions: “Education and Violence”; “Education and Multiculturality”; and “Education and the Integration of Minorities.” Each commission reflected on its theme and produced contributions for an eventual “Declaration of the Ibero-American Forum of NGOs on Children and Adolescents,” with a view to presenting it to relevant Ministries and higher authorities.

Some children and adolescents formed their own parallel forum, and treated the same topics. They offered their group reflections in a moment of dialogue with the adults. The experience was very rich because one could sense a similarity between the different features emphasized by the two groups: “School is not the only place where you learn,” “Discrimination is the fruit of lack of knowledge,” “We do not identify ourselves by the word vulnerability,” and “Schools are working for children but not the ones in front of the teachers.” There you have some of the points that the children and young people surfaced.

The final document will, in fact, consider the material suggested by children and adolescents who, in their turn have produced a document that has been added as appendix to the Declaration, read and edited in the plenary session with all participants.

During the Forum, Silvana Pedrowicz presented a study that was like a regional balance sheet of how the Convention on Child’s Rights has been put into effect in Latin America and the Caribbean. The study reveals clearly the impact the document has had over the twenty years since its approval

Marta Santo Pais is special representative from the general office dealing with violence against children and adolescents. She made three suggestions to the group in the course of her comments: (1) the need to have a clear calendar regarding the strategies for combating violence and for anticipating such violence; (2) the urgent need to establish clear laws that forbid violence against children and adolescents; (3) getting accurate statistics to understand the topic more clearly.

For the Marist representatives, the meeting was a chance to share their experiences and knowledge regarding the ways in which the issue presents itself in their situations and the political relevance of the theme, such as it is encountered in the Ibero-American countries.

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