Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), You have to admit: there’s a lot of effort involved with them, and they cost a significant amount of money. Besides, they can’t even vote, so why bother dealing with them?
It will take many years before that poor, unkempt, unwell child grows up into another uninformed voter whose vote can be bought for a simple pack of cigarettes.
It’s much easier to sway adults – you can either add to their pension or promise them the most unreal things so they vote for you in elections. So, why invest in children? Why put resources into their access to quality schools, kindergartens, or healthcare?
Does this kind of thinking shock you? Well, welcome to the mind of an average Slovak politician.
Of course, there’s always a female Member of Parliament who mentions the welfare of children in a parliamentary debate. However, these discussions are often accompanied by nonchalant behavior, like picking one’s nose and observing what was pulled from it or staring at a tabloid newspaper on the cell phone of disinterested social democrats.
I vividly recall how representatives from Smer-SD and the fascists from ĽSNS glared at me when I addressed the Slovak parliament about the urgency to cease sending Roma children to special schools, segregating them simply because they are poor and “good” white Slovak parents don’t wish their children share a classroom with them. Now European Commission sues Slovakia for discrimination against Roma children in education.
However, it’s time for Slovakia to take this seriously. At the EU level, we’ve introduced the Child Guarantee. It is the mechanism aimed at encouraging member states to invest in improving the lives of vulnerable children living in poverty.
Governments must allocate a specific amount of money from European funds and ensure that every child, including those from Roma settlements, those with disabilities, and those from impoverished single-parent families, has access to quality kindergartens, schools, healthcare, and nutritious food.
To all the voters in countries grappling with child poverty: If your preferred politicians aren’t concerned about the living conditions of your children, at least Brussels is. I’m delighted to be directly involved in the work on the Children’s Guarantee.
Together with my colleagues from Renew Europe, we call for a robust monitoring and evaluation framework both at the national and European levels. It must be based on comparable and disaggregated data. We also call for an impact assessment on the possibility of establishing a European Authority for Children.