Children’s perception of democracy must be developed [Archives:2005/813/Culture]

February 3 2005

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The Children's Parliament in Yemen is a unique experience that was initiated to give children the opportunity to learn about democratic concepts.

The Yemen Times forwarded the following questions to Jamal Abdullah Al-Shami, Principal of the Democratic School in Sana'a, to shed the light on the activities of his school and the Children's Parliament.

Q. When was the first Children's Parliament in Yemen founded?

A. It was founded in 2000.

Q. The Children's Parliament in Yemen is a pioneering and unique experience in the Arab region as it attempts to teach democratic concepts to children, do you agree?

A. The Children's Parliament in Yemen is a good initiative that attempts to develop the child's perception of democracy. It gives children the opportunity to practice democracy and to form their parliament according to the electoral law. Children are elected to represent others not on the base of their education or creativity but according to fair polls.

Q. What is the primary goal of this parliament?

A. The parliament aims to raise awareness among children about the democratic transition. It intends to train children and make them aware of their rights.

Q. What are the activities of the Democratic School and does it receive any support from any other organizations?

A. The activities we exercise include all the children from around the Republic of Yemen. We intend to teach people to enjoy their rights and expression freedoms. The election process was a wonderful achievement, and a number of international and local organizations acknowledged its success.

The Democratic School is a non-governmental organization interested in the rights of children and the practice of democracy. The school never received any direct support from other organizations, and if there is any support, it is reflected in monitoring the election process, the functions of the parliament and the Children's Local Council.

UNICEF, the Canadian Development Program, the American Embassy, and the National Institute for Democracy are some of the organizations that offer such support.

Q. Are there any other activities practiced by the School?

A. The Democratic School has many other activities related to women's rights and it has special projects to be implemented in 2005 such as the Arab Childhood Conference and spreading awareness about women's rights among youths.

We have a partnership with the government in implementing some of the activities and the government often gives us financial support which facilitates the tasks of the school.

Q. What are the most important recommendations of the last childhood conference?

A. The important recommendations of the conference included:

– Forming a committee for human rights and activating the laws that prohibit child labor in the chemical factories and other jobs that put children at risk.

– Forming an education committee that is responsible for making education compulsory as well as free.

– Forming a committee for culture and media, to create awareness programs on the fight against child labor.