Save the Children hosts forums for children’s voices
In June 2019, Save the Children in collaboration with relevant authorities of Ho Chi Minh City hosted a series of child forums at district and city levels to create a platform for children to raise their voices and concerns as well as enhance child participation in the decision making process of policies affecting them. Three district and one city level forum were organized with participation of nearly a thousand people, including more than 600 children.
The district and city-level People’s Committees, Departments of Education and Training, Departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Public Security, Youth Unions and Child Protection Boards are key partners in the organization of the forum. Save the Children contributed technical knowledge and assistance to the forums.
In line within guidance from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the key theme of this year’s child forum is ‘Children speak out issues affecting them’. Under this key theme, Save the Children and local partners selected themes for four forums organized recently: Violence against children at home and school settings, Child sexual abuse, Child labor exploitation, and and Children’s participation in developing child-friendly environment at home and school settings.
In each forum, children were organized into groups to discuss the issues and recommend solutions. Local authorities noted down and shared children’s recommendations with other related agencies. At the forum they also responded directly to some concerns raised by children. In addition, children had an opportunity to discuss with representatives of the local authorities other issues that concern them, like roadside safety, violence, reproductive health, children’s rights, environment pollution, life skills, food safety…
In the most recent city-level forum in Ho Chi Minh City, children were engaged in a role playing game, where they were headmaster of their own schools. They worked in groups to discuss existing issues at their schools that they are concerned about and what they would do about it if they were the headmaster. A lot of issues and ideas were raised by the children. “This is the second time I participated in the Child Forum. It’s very useful for me as I have a chance to raise my voice to the decision makers. Hopefully, our concerns will be listened to and resolved,” said a Grade 8 student of a secondary school in the district of Go Vap of Ho Chi Minh City.
The child forums are supported through the project “Improved protection and quality education for migrant and other marginalized and vulnerable children in Ho Chi Minh City”, funded by IKEA Foundation and implemented by Save the Children since 2013.