The Children's Parliament
I - BACKGROUND
Cameroon ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in January 1993 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) in 1996. These two international legal instruments are binding on member States to develop at the national level, mechanisms for children's participation for the consideration of their views on issues concerning them. Also, in order to make the application of this concern related to children's rights to participation more effective, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAS) with the support of its national and international partners, organizes a parliamentary session for children called the Children's Parliament (CP) since 1998, as part of the celebration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) on June 16 of each year,. This is intended to be a platform for exchanges between children and decision makers and contribute to the effective implementation of Articles 12, 13 and 14 of the CRC and 7 of ACRWC offering children the opportunity to participate in the life of the community by expressing their views on issues that concern them through questions, but also proposed answers and resolutions.
II - OBJECTIVES
a- General Purpose
Giving children an appropriate framework to ensure the exercise of their rights to expression and participation.
b- Specific Objectives
- Promote and popularize the rights of the Child;
- Introduce children to democratic practices;
- Teach children the culture of effort, tolerance and respect for others;
- Cause the kids to formulate and freely express their concerns and give their opinion on issues concerning them. ;
- Create a consideration of relevant concerns of children in national policies and programmes.
III - RULES FOR SELECTION OF JUNIOR PARLIAMENTARIANS
We must distinguish the criteria and selection process.
1. Selection Criteria
Junior Parliamentarians are elected by their peers, children out of school and must be strongly representative of both sexes (girls and boys), different categories of children: Disabled (physical, blind and deaf, albino), indigenous peoples ( Pygmies, Mbororo, Mountaineers). They are elected within government or private primary, secondary general (forms 1, 2, 3 and 5) and technical (1st, 2nd 3rd years and the 5th form), Centers (social, multifunctional or of the promotion of women and the family), institutions and public or private structures of child care (Associations, NGOs and Private Social ...). They must also be aged 9-18 years, and be among the best in their class, their structure or their category, in order to be true spokespersons. Concerning the latter point, the file of the selected junior MP should include copies of the transcripts of the last three school years and the first quarter of the year.
2. Selection Process
Under the supervision of Regional Governors, Regional Delegates of Social Affairs, MINEDUB, MINESEC, MINJEC and MINPROFF, under the quota reserved for Junior MPs per Region, determine the Divisions to cover (at least half the number of people in the Region), as well as the institutions and structures within them, favouring those who have not yet participated in the Children’s Parliament. They further define the programme of visit to the selected structures and by informing the public through the press and radio, and the Heads of the structures or institutions through letters or messages. In any case, the activity must be highly publicized.
Within structures and beyond the time of explaining to officials and of presenting the objectives of the CP, the main articles of the CRC as well as the selection process for students or children concerned, the election is made by the peers of the JP on the basis of a secret ballot or a show of hands, a simple majority of the votes cast and on the declaration of the candidature of the child to be elected himself. Each selected candidate campaigns on his ability to properly represent his comrades by proposing a question to a member of Government and a suggested answer to the latter. In case of equality of votes, the candidate who asked the best question and proposed a relevant answer is declared the winner and JP. Each JP has an Alternate (Substitute), that is, the best loser. He takes part in the session in case of unavailability of his superior (illness, accident, etc.). The election results are documented in a report (PV) signed by the supervisors responsible for the selection and structure. Questions and suggested answers are attached to them for onward transmission to MINAS.
IV - CONDITIONS OF GETTING STARTED
The selected children are summoned to Yaounde on a fixed date by one or two supervisor (s), MINAS worker (s) chosen by the Regional Delegate of Social Affairs.
To this effect, these children must benefit from the permission of the person having legal custody (parent, guardian or official of the receiving structure) who, prior to that, had filled out the health form of the child and arranged a number of items mentioned in the attached form for his stay in Yaounde. Transportation costs incurred by Juniors MPs are reimbursed.
V - ACTIVITIES OF JUNIOR MPs
During their stay in Yaounde and while waiting for the session that concerns them, the Junior MPs engage in educational, recreational and socio-cultural activities, under the supervision of professionals as well as some former Junior MPs.
At the educational level : They are drilled by supervisors on topical issues: Rights and Obligations of the Child, social ills, addiction, STIs / HIV AIDS, good governance, parent - child relationships, etc.
At the recreational and socio-cultural level : They are busy with various activities (traditional and modern dance, plastic arts, songs, tours, etc.).
Furthermore, in view of their passage in the National Assembly, they are selected to reformulate the questions meant for members of Government as well as make simulations with the aim of selecting those who would ask the questions at the Assembly National.
VI - PARTNERS
The organization of Children's Parliament is the result of an effective partnership involving the executive, the legislature, the Cameroonian civil society and some international partners:
- At the level of the government : Prime Minister MINAS MINTAD, MINDEL-SCRA, MINEDUB, MINESEC, MINJEC, MINSEP, MINREX, MINTSS, MINEFOP, MINPROFF, MINCOM ...
- At the legislative level: The National Assembly.
- At the level of the civil society: National Associations and NGOs of childcare.
- At the level of international organizations and NGOs: UNICEF, ILO / ILO, Plan-Cameroon, SOS Kinderdoff, CRC / UNHCR, UN-HABITAT, CARE Cameroon, etc.
They focus on the institutionalization of the Children's Parliament after evaluation sessions already held.