Students at Vila North School dream of a world where boys and girls have fun and work together for a happier brighter future. © UNICEF Pacific/Kaitiplel/2018

Port Vila, 22 November 2018: At least 1,200 students, together with teachers and parents at Vila North School, with support from the Ministry of Education & Training and UNICEF, joined children around the globe on 21 November to celebrate World Children’s Day and say no to violence against children

At the event at Vila North Primary School, children were “taking over” to chorus a resounding “No” to bullying in all its forms and raised their voices to create a safe learning environment where children are protected.

“The effects of violence against children and in this case bullying are many and far reaching – not just for the child being bullied but for the entire society,” stated Mr Andrew Parker, Chief of the UNICEF Vanuatu Field Office. “We must do all we can to make sure that bullying is stopped and children learn in a protected environment,” he added.

World Children’s Day is an annual global day of action for children, by children; a chance to advocate, raise awareness and raise funds for the most pressing issues facing children. 20 November is the day when the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, was adopted.

“Violence against children in any form must not be accepted. The Ministry’s child safeguarding policy is clear about protecting children including children’s rights to survival, protection, development and participation,” stated Mr Roy Ben, Child Protection Focal Point, Ministry of Education & Training. “Child protection is a shared responsibility that requires all parts of society working together to make this happen,” he added.

Children at Vila North School talked about bullying while taking over their speech day programme. The brave students spoke about how bullying affects children and that it is everyone’s responsibility to end it.

“Vila North School, one of the biggest schools in Vanuatu, is proud to host this year’s World Children’s Day event that has a serious message for all of us,” Mr Roy Charlie, Vila North Deputy Principal Primary said. “The school has a policy that engages students to create safe learning spaces while taking into account parents’ responsibility”.

“As class captain I have an important role to play in the school,” said 10 year old grade four student, Alexia. “Students come to me when someone bullies them so that I can take it up to the teacher and principal,” she added. “I want all children to keep learning and chase their dreams.”

World Children’s Day celebrates the progress made for children, holds leaders to account on promises made to children and addresses the work that still needs to be done.