Nearly 200 children from HCM City clubs and schools posed questions and offered suggestions about protecting children’s rights at a two-day forum that ended in HCM City on July 20.

They voiced concern on issues like the city bus transport system, environmental pollution, teaching quality, violence against children, abuse of child workers, homeless children, and discrimination against children affected by HIV/AIDS.

A representative of the city Children’s House said he wanted to know why there are no school buses in the city like in other countries.

According to chairwoman of the city People’s Council, Pham Phuong Thao, though there are 3,500 buses operating in the city with subsidies of more than 600 billion VND a year, residents are not satisfied with the service because of careless and badly behaved staff. Only 5.4 percent of city’s residents use buses with the rest using private transportation.

“The city needs more time to operate school buses,” she added.

“How will students have time to play or relax when they have to stay up late to prepare for the next day’s lesson” Another student asked, also complaining about the repetitiveness of the school syllabus.
Pham Ngoc Thanh, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Education, said the department was carrying out educational reform which would reduce the workload for students.

The children raised several other issues – teachers should listen to children’s ideas; the teaching quality should be improved so that children do not have to attend extra classes to keep on top of things; food safety should be closely monitored at schools; school infrastructure, including toilets, should be improved or upgraded.

The forum, titled “Children and objectives for children” and held as part of a national action programme for children, was aimed at involving them in formulating policies, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nhung, deputy director of the city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said.
Children would learn to protect themselves when they learn about the risks affecting their lives, she added.

The 2001-10 Action Programme focuses on four goals, ensuring every child receives health care and nutrition and preventing accidents, injures and diseases; improving the quality of education: facilitating the comprehensive development of children; and taking care of disadvantaged children and preventing violations of children’s rights and crimes by youths.

The children also took part in a test on children’s rights and a painting contest involving themes based on the programme goals.

Depuy chairwoman of the People’s Committee, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, called on city agencies to acknowledge all the proposals and come up appropriate measures to resolve the issues raised./.