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Illiteracy- a collective shame & Child labour- a curse: Observer of the Holy See at UN.
June 20, 2013: “In educating the youth, the family plays an essential role and therefore, it is important that policy-makers respect and promote this fundamental role of the family.” said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, speaking at the Fourth Session of the General Assembly - Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. He was speaking on the topic “Employment and decent work for all, social protection,youth, education and culture”
Calling illiteracy in the world a collective shame for Governments, world leaders and international community, he said “it requires placing the right to education for all, at the very center of all our efforts for sustainable development.”
Referring to work as a fundamental right of all human beings, linking it to human dignity, he said it is essential to integral human development and the common good of the human family. He also spoke on adopting social protections to ensure that respect for the rights of the employed is maintained, he called child labour a “scourge”, a real form of slavery which gives rise to mistreatment, exploitation and discrimination of over 10 million children worldwide. “We have a direct obligation to address this deplorable situation of these most vulnerable members of our society” he added.
Text of his entire speech:
The interconnected nature of our theme, “decent work, social protection and education for our youth”, presents a broad but necessary challenge for establishing long-term human-centered sustainable development.
Education is the point upon which these discussions must begin; for without education young people lack the knowledge necessary for adulthood, adults lack the skills needed to adapt to changing work environments and the wisdom of our older persons is not passed from generation to generation.
During the deliberations on the Rio+20 Outcome there was a long and productive discussion about the importance of intergenerational solidarity. In many ways, this intergenerational solidarity and the means for fostering it finds its roots in the need to educate our children so that they can become healthy, productive and responsible citizens.
In educating the youth, the family plays an essential role. As the fundamental unit of society, the family provides the first lessons of interpersonal relationships, transmits cultural, ethical, social and spiritual values as well as many of the skills which serve to promote the common good of the society. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that policy-makers respect and promote this fundamental role of the family.
In fulfilling their responsibility as first educators of their children, parents have the right to found and support educational institutions. These institutions play a vital role in providing the integral training necessary for young people and those looking to improve their knowledge and skills. In a world in which technological innovation and the demand for greater skills advance at an ever increasing rate, how will the 250 million children who are unable to read, write or count, be able to keep pace? How will the three-quarter of a billion adults who are unable to read and write be able to adapt to the evolving demand for different skills?
This is a collective shame for Governments, world leaders and international community. It requires placing the right to education for all at the very center of all our efforts for sustainable development. Through universal access to education and respecting the different needs of each country in this regard, the rich resource of human ingenuity can be unlocked for the good of all society.
While education provides the knowledge and skills necessary for contributing to society, work is a fundamental right of all human beings. This right is inherently linked to human dignity and provides for the needs of the individual and their families and is thus, by its very nature, essential to integral human development and the common good of the human family. Work is the condition which makes establishing the family possible and is the means by which the family is maintained and supported. Work, education, the family – these three – cannot be spoken of severally, if not also jointly: they are interrelated and interdependent – each is the sine qua non for the other.
Profound concerns about unemployment, underemployment or lack of decent work, which persists now in people of all ages and in all countries, reflect the reality of the crucial role of work. The persistent unemployment is a social injustice undermining freedom and stifling human creativity. It is a cause of great suffering for society in our time. Accordingly, our policies should be directed towards the goal of providing full and decent work for all.
Providing decent work also requires adopting social protections to ensure that respect for the rights of the employed is maintained. The “scourge” of child labor, for example, is a real form of slavery which gives rise to mistreatment, exploitation and discrimination of over 10 million children worldwide. It deprives these children of their access to education, and smothers them “in their joyful enthusiasm of hope”. Governmental leaders, private sector corporations and the international community as a whole must work together towards the goal of eradicating this ever worsening abuse of children. Child labor is a patent violation of the rights of the child as enshrined in the Convention on the rights of the Child and State parties have a direct obligation to address this deplorable situation of these most vulnerable members of our society.
The nearly 400 million working poor who still live in extreme poverty, i.e. below $1.25 a day, and the additional 32.1 percent of workers who live in households, earning below $2 a day, are eloquent evidence of the urgent need for social protections for our workers. If we wish to eradicate extreme poverty, as recommended by the recent High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, we must start by ensuring that those who do work do not find themselves still living in a condition of extreme poverty.
It is a gross injustice for millions of working people, who manufacture products or are employed as domestic workers, often for the greater well being, comfort and happiness of their more affluent fellow men and women in developed countries, while at the same time earning less than $2.00 per day and living in poverty.
Juridical and social protection systems must recognize and respect the rights of all workers: to a just wage, to a decent life and subsistence, to rest, to a safe working environment, to personal conscience and moral integrity, to their pensions, to unemployment support, to social security for maternity, to the right to assemble and to form associations. International cooperation is imperative, therefore, if we are to halt this exploitation of the poor by upholding a living wage for all so that they too may enjoy a life befitting their human dignity.
Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.