By Aaron Humes:The next meeting of the House of Representatives and Senate in Belmopan will feature a decidedly younger cast of participants.
They are children from around Belize, selected by the National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) as part of its National Children’s Parliament Program, intended to give opportunities for our youngest to learn through experience and teach civic pride, the art of consulting and debating and principles of governance and politics. The Committee says it believes and demonstrates in this activity that children have the capacity for meaningful participation and advocate for decision-makers to increase opportunities at all levels of society.
The meeting on Saturday, November 20, coincides with World Children’s Day. The House members go first at 9 a.m., followed by the Senate at 11 a.m.
The NCFC established a Children’s Parliament Steering Committee to foster coordination and collaboration among partners for a national approach to execution. The Steering Committee is comprised of partners who are collaborating with NCFC to execute this parliament session. These include the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the office of the Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, Restore Belize, Department of Youth Services and the Belize Association for Persons of Diverse Ability (BAPDA).
Unlike regular parliamentarians, who are elected but not specifically trained in the art of parliamentary debate, these youngsters are being trained under a curriculum that teaches about governance, parliamentary procedures, and other skills necessary for their participation.
However, their session will be virtual and broadcast via the usual platforms as the National Assembly galleries remain closed to the public.