This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989. This landmark human rights treaty sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of their race, religion or abilities. The commemoration of October 17 each year demonstrates how greater participation can be achieved by enabling people from all walks of life to come together to respect the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty.
The participation of children and young people has always been encouraged and supported as an integral part of October 17 observances at the United Nations and around the world. This year's theme is "Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty".
In his message for the commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2019, the Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Alain Wong, recalled that efforts to overcome poverty must address the fulfillment of all the rights of children as spelt out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Government, he added, has placed the rights of children high on its agenda and based on principles of broad economic growth and inclusiveness, Mauritius has implemented a six pillar strategy to combat poverty, namely massive investment in education and training for all, the development of an inclusive economic growth model; the consolidation of a strong social security system; increased empowerment support to poor families; combatting social ills including drug addiction and trafficking; and addressing the intergenerational transfer of poverty.
According to the Minister, Government has already demonstrated its commitment towards poverty eradication through the adoption of the Marshall Plan Against Poverty, which specifically includes and addresses the needs, concerns and rights of children and their families. The enactment of the Social Integration and Empowerment Act 2016, he pointed out, provides for a series of empowerment programmes and projects that put the vulnerable families at the center of development. Since 2016 to date, funds to the tune of Rs 618 Million have been disbursed under the Subsistence Allowance Scheme for some 11 000 families registered under the Social Register of Mauritius (SRM) in Mauritius and Rodrigues.
With regard to education, Mr Wong stated that around Rs 349 Million have been disbursed on Empowerment Schemes, namely the Child Allowance Scheme, the Creche Scheme, the School Materials Scheme, the School Premium Scheme and the Free Examinations Fees Scheme.
Housing support to improve the living conditions of vulnerable families, has been another priority for Government and consequently, 10% of all social housing units constructed by Government are now allocated to beneficiaries under the SRM, he said.
Speaking about the National Social Inclusion Foundation which was set up in 2017 to ensure a better integration of social services and programmes provided by NGOs, the Minister underlined that a total of 525 projects for 387 NGO's have been funded for a total amount of Rs 514 Million. Out of this, a total amount of Rs431 Million has been disbursed for 339 projects involving some 78 000 children.