Arina Shekoyan’s Speech during the “Child’s Rights in the Eyes of Children” Conference

“Children Who Were Left out of Education”

I want to speak about Emanuel. Emanuel came to our school from the street. Yes, from the street. Emanuel was not different from the other students. In many aspects, he stood out:  he was taller, wide-bodied and eye-catching. He had amazing prerequisites to be an exemplary student and to be a good person. All of us were trying to surround him with care. Emanuel would change day by day. He became happier and more social.

Nevertheless, due to the irresponsible behavior of his parents, Emanuel was left out of education.

I remember that day. I saw him for the last time when he was at the entrance standing separated from the rest. There was sadness and dejection in his eyes, at least that was what appeared to be. Since that day, the guilty feeling has not left me.

I flip back in my memories to run to the school yard and hold his hand so that he is not left alone. Today, I am provided with the opportunity to raise the story of Emanuel.

Children who are left out of education are alienated, isolated and ignored.

Today, 53% of children in the age range of 3-5 are in social insecurity. More than half of them do not receive any form of pre-school education. 12% of teenagers aged 15-17 do not attend any educational institution. An unrevealed number of children with disabilities are left out of the education process since official statistics are often far different from reality. What do you think? How is the destiny of those children shaped? Residing on the streets, they become subject to abuse, violence and trafficking. Then why are we shocked when the number of crimes rises?

Children are vulnerable, and children who are left out of education are even more vulnerable. Education is what provides the opportunity to live a dignified and prosperous life. Children are the property of no one, including their parents. Children are not helpless objects of kindness.

Children are individuals who own rights and dignity.

Honorable decision-makers, honorable adults, refine the current laws, refine the current mechanisms, return them to their families, to school, to society.

Honorable relevant bodies, we are not a burden. We are an investment. Today, advanced humanity desires to create a world free of tears, violence and war; a world based on fairness and equality.

And remember, a society that devalues and neglects children’s issues pays a high price in return.