JIS News

More than 90 per cent of all babies registered since January 1 of this year, now have their fathers’ names on their birth certificates.
This announcement was made by Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, at the official launch of Children’s Expo 2007 by the Jamaica Foundation for Children (JFC), at the Hilton Kingston Hotel yesterday (April 3).
On January 1 the Ministry of Health launched an initiative, spearheaded by the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), to ensure that more babies are registered with their fathers’ names on their birth certificates.
The emphasis on greater father involvement is the focus of this year’s Children’s Expo and National Child Month (May) activities, which are being celebrated under the theme: ‘Fathers, Your children Need You’.
Advocating greater protection for the nation’s children, Mr. Dalley commended caring fathers, and reinforced the Government’s mandate to keep the nation’s children at “centrestage of our activities.” He urged all stakeholders responsible for the protection and safety of children to “never lose steam.” “Let us never ever take the steam out of the love and the protection of our children – is the simple message I have to say to you today,” he told volunteers and sponsors at the launch.
Citing recent cases of children who have died because of neglect or abuse, Mr. Dalley urged the Child Development Agency (CDA) and children advocates to “be firm in going after and prosecuting those parents who have neglected their children. We must do something to signal our seriousness in order to ensure that our children are protected”.
The Minister said the government has been a strong advocate for the country’s children since the United Nations (UN) earliest interventions. “When the UN declared the International Year of the Child, we did not hesitate to fully endorse those declarations and put a team together to go to the Convention to put together the Rights of the Child. I happily remember when we ratified the Convention without much lobbying from any grouping. The government felt it necessary to indicate our readiness to put children at the centrepiece of our activities,” he added.
He lauded the work of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community-Based Organizations which have collaborated with the government on child protection policies and helped to shape and communicate messages for the drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention projects.
Mr. Dalley appealed to students in the audience to keep their standards high. “Nothing is absolutely wrong with being on the decent course, nothing is wrong with being kind and gentle, nothing in being courteous, to have respect for adults, your teacher and people in authority. That’s the way we want you to grow,” he said.
Communications Officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Jamaica, Monica Dias said that this year’s expo “should be used to expose adults to new ways of thinking about children and changing parenting practices.”
“UNICEF is concerned that although the family is the most protective and enabling environment for the Jamaican child to grow up in, to develop and to acquire life skills, parents do not spend enough time sharing with their children and teaching moral values, and fathers especially are known for this, so we are very glad for the theme of the Children’s Expo this year,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Child Month Committee, Dr. Pauline Mullings said that, “it is the desire of the Committee that this theme will indeed create an awareness in our men to step up, rise up to be the kind of men they are called to be.”
The JFC’s Chairman, Richard Lumsden said that the children’s expo and National Child Month (May) activities are opportunities to focus the nation’s attention on issues affecting children, share information that is relevant to their care and protection and “to dedicate ourselves to the on-going efforts that we may make throughout the rest of the year to make this country a better place for all our families and children.”
The Children’s Expo, said to be the largest annual child participation event in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean, will be held at the National Arena from Thursday, May 10 to Sunday, May 13.
The Foundation is putting in tighter crowd control measures this year to ensure the safety and comfort of students and teachers attending the event. No tickets will be sold at the gate. Instead, attendees will have to purchase pre-sold tickets from their schools, which will be allotted a maximum of 100 tickets each. Tickets will be on sale up to May 8.
Patrons at the expo can expect interactive booths, a cyber centre, book fair, and a variety of entertainment. Fora on a range of relevant topics will also be a highlight this year.