‘Mayor, think twice’

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HCC called on to reconsider notice as children’s right to education is at stake

 

BY GEORGINA KEKEA

SCHOOL Board Chairman of the Honiara Integrated Primary School (HIPS) has called on the Honiara City Council to reconsider its relocation notice.

In a letter dated October 2, 2018, bearing the name of City Clerk, Charles Kelly, notice was issued to the school, giving them three months’ notice to find an alternative site for relocation.

But, in an interview with Island Sun, Chairman Michael Suarikeni says it is not right for HCC to treat them like this.

In the notice it was stated that legal proceedings is not required in this matter and the school’s sincere cooperation is duly requested. “This is to ensure that compliance is done by the school,” the letter said.

Mr Suarikeni says HIPS belongs to HCC and it is HCC’s sole responsibility to find an alternative site for the school.

By issuing the letter, HCC seems to disassociate itself from the school, he said.

“How can you do this to your own school?” Suarikeni questions.

He said HCC should find an alternative site for HIPS or should be protecting the school and its children. He said the action shown by HCC is likened to a father disowning his own child.

“It is the council’s responsibility. Something is not right here,” he said.

Meanwhile on HCC’s website, HIPS is listed down as one of its 15 schools in the city. In their Education and Recreation column, HCC wrote, “Honiara City Council has 15 different Primary Schools spread throughout Honiara, so we can best serve the children of Honiara”. A statement said to contradict the current situation as children’s right to education is now at stake.

While the wrangling on relocation continues between HCC and the HIPS board and administration, Island Sun understands that some 300 students will be affected should HCC decide to close the school down.

To the world, the closing down of the school for such an excuse might not go down well with International Human right treaties and agreements such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

While this might seem insignificant, Solomon Islands when ratifying the CRC, accepts obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights. CRC places equal emphasis on all rights for children.

“There is no such thing as a ‘small right’. There is no hierarchy of human rights. Children’s rights are indivisible and interrelated with a focus on the child as a whole. Governmental decisions with regard to any one right must be made in the light of all the other rights in the convention.”

On top of that, the national government’s overarching strategic goal of the Education Strategic Frame work is to provide universal access to quality basic and secondary education for all children by 2030, and improved access to early childhood education and care and technical and vocational education and training.

“The Government will place priority on refocusing education sector expenditure to providing services at primary and junior secondary schools to achieve the target of achieving universal completion of quality junior secondary by 2030,” the National Education Action Plan (NEAP) 2016 – 2020 stated.

Thus with these factors in consideration, HIPS is of the opinion that HCC shouldn’t just hand them this three-month notice without due consideration for the children’s education.

Suarikeni says the action of the HCC seems dubious and calls for further investigation into this matter.

“First the letter was addressed to the Principal. The Principal do not own the school. It belongs to government. The principal is an employee of the government,” Suarikeni said.

He said in the first place, it was HCC that relocated HIPS to its current location.

“And now it wants them to relocate again,” Suarikeni said.

HIPS was given until December 31, 2018 to relocate.

HCC’s reason for the relocation is for work to commence on the development of the site. This is in preparation for the 2023 Games.

Island Sun has not been able to get comments from the head of the SPG 2023 Games Sub Committee as he is said to be in Moscow, Russia.

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