|The Reintegration of War-Affected Youth: The Experience of Mozambique (International Labour Organization, 1997, 52 p.)|
|4. Incorporating life skills into vocational skills training|
In 1994, as part of the activities prepared for the Day of the African Child, UNICEF organized elections on the rights of the child. Some 94,000 children from six provinces chose the most important principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The objective of the event was to disseminate the contents of the Convention among children, parents and teachers, and to undertake a practical democratic exercise in preparation for the national elections that took place in October 1994. The children's rights elections also served as an advocacy tool to sensitize government officials, legislators, representatives from the media and other organizations working on behalf of children in Mozambique about the rights of children.1 UNICEF continues to work with the Christian Council of Mozambique to promote children's rights.2
1 UNICEF, The expansion of CEDC Services/Peace Education Project, UNICEF report, Maputo, undated, p. 17.
2 UNICEF, Mozambique situation update, May-July 1996, Maputo, undated.
As seen above, gender training has been included systematically in courses offered by the Government's agricultural training centre. On the whole the experience has been positive, although of course cultural realities cannot be changed overnight. In addition, UNICEF is preparing a booklet on gender awareness which will be made available to all adults dealing with children, including teachers, social workers, health workers, NGO workers and community leaders and volunteers. A task force on human rights in the NGO forum, LINK, started in October 1996 joining together local NGOs.
Despite these initiatives, it is clear that the dissemination of human rights and labour standards occupies a fairly low priority in Mozambique, both among government officials and among agencies and non-governmental organizations. This is in part due to the fear that standards are set that cannot possibly be respected in the current economic situation in Mozambique. Ingraining a rights culture among the young, however, strengthens protection efforts and reinforces a sense of international solidarity. Rights training should, in time, become part of the curriculum, but could also usefully be included in vocational training courses, particularly in the training of trainers. The discussion need not be technical but should help to ensure that those charged with protecting or assisting children and youth do not end up abusing their rights through ignorance.