Instruction for opening schools in Albania exposes children to punishment and expulsion

Instruction for opening schools in Albania exposes children to punishment and expulsion

CRCA/ECPAT Albania asks the Ministry of Education to urgently stop violating children’s rights

Tirana, 13 September 2020 - The latest instruction issued by the Minister of Education on measures of care and protection from Covid19 is in open contradiction with the current legal framework for child rights in Albania - said CRCA/ECPAT Albania in a public statement issued for the Minister of Education, Besa Shahini. In the opinion of CRCA experts: “the instruction fragrantly violating the rights of children guaranteed by the Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The instruction on care and protection from Covid-19: measures for the pre-university education structures for the school year 2020-2021, obliges children under the age of 14, including children with special needs, to sign a self-declaration form stating that either them or their family members are not affected by Covid. If the statement is wrong the instruction suggests that children be punished based per school regulations.

Naturally, when reading this instruction, several questions arise:

• Minister how can a child who just started learning to read and write sign such a form?!

• How can children with special needs fulfill this mandatory form?!

• How can a child answer and be responsible for the situation of their family members?!

• How can a child under the age of 14 who by law are considered incapable - be asked to sign a document for which the declaration could imply criminal consequences?

• How can children be forced to take personal responsibility in cases of infection of Covid-19, when they are asymptomatic?!

Meanwhile the instruction also requires that the ventilation of classrooms and school premises be performed every day every up to 5-6 hours, while there is lack of information on how such a measure will be implemented during cold, rainy days or during the winter season.

The instruction also requires that children are equipped with a mask that is changed every day! The instruction doesn’t give any consideration for the children who live in extreme poverty. Who will take the burden of the financial cost? Who will pay for the masks of children who have no money to buy it? Will the Ministry refuse to provide education to these children just because they are poor?

CRCA/ECPAT Albania is seriously concerned because some of the measures approved by the Ministry of Education flagrantly violate the rights of children. In this context, we ask the Minister of Education to urgently review the proposed measures in consultation with civil society, children, and parents.

Schools belong to children! They should be open, safe and inclusive to all.

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