‘Brunei prioritises children’s rights’

National 3 minutes, 5 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

AN EIGHT-member delegation of senior government officers from Brunei attended the 71st Session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the sultanate’s efforts in promoting and protecting children’s rights.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Jalil, presented an overview of the sultanate’s actions over the years during the session yesterday.

Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila said children’s issues continue to be a priority for the country, with Brunei implementing various policies and programmes to ensure the best for local children.

“As the focal agency responsible for the support, care, protection and rehabilitation of children in the country, one of the main functions of the ministry is to coordinate the implementation of (action plans),” she said.

Over the years, the government has taken the initiative to establish various committees and councils that focus on specific social issues. One of the councils was the National Council on Social Issues.

Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila said the council is an inter-ministerial council which includes ministers from various ministries and the chairman of Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

The council aims to cater to specific social issues that have been identified in the sultanate, including poverty eradication, the family institution, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The council has also agreed to address children’s issues, in which the implementation of the rights of children will be the sultanate’s main focus.

“This move reflects our increased commitment towards the rights and welfare of our children,” she said.

Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila also shared the sultanate’s progress in its education system with the UN committee, in which she cited World Bank data saying that Brunei achieved youth literacy of around 99 per cent in 2012.

She said in January 2015, the government introduced the system for electronic monitoring of daily attendance, in which she said that there has been an improvement in student attendance.

Other initiatives to ensure students don’t miss school include home visits to check on them, counseling and welfare assistance.

To cater for students’ diverse needs, the government has also established nine model schools since 2008 with specialized learning equipment and resources to provide students with skills to actively participate in learning.

Meanwhile, the government has also fulfilled the targets of the Millennium Development Goals in the area of health.

Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila said the government is fully committed to further improving maternal and children’s health in the sultanate, including nutrition.

One of the initiatives by the Ministry of Health was the introduction of the National Strategy of Maternal, Infant and Young Children’s Nutrition (MIYCN) 2014. MIYCN contains a framework for the national strategy.

The government, along with local non-governmental organisations has also taken initiatives to address the rights and welfare of people with disabilities.

She said the government has also supported various NGOs that focus on disabilities by setting an annual budget allocation since 2012. The financial assistance is aimed at providing funding to eligible NGOs to hold annual programmes of activities.

She added that the sultanate has also worked with ASEAN countries to promote and protect the rights of children, such as adopting the ASEAN regional action plan.

The plan focuses on violence against children that outlines priority areas including prevention, protection, response and service, legal framework and prosecution.

Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila concluded by stating that the sultanate hopes to further collaborate with the UN committee to overcome the various challenges that Brunei faces, including limited technical expertise on the development and implementation of a national child protection strategy.

The Brunei Times