Unicef to make Cebu City streetkids’ program a model
By Linette C. Ramos
Sun.Star Staff Reporter
Impressed with Cebu City’s initiatives for street children and minor offenders, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) wants to make the City’s program for children a model not only for other provinces but for other Asian countries as well.
Unicef officials found remarkable the coordination between the City Government and a network of nongovernment organizations working together for the cause of children in the city.
Colin Davis, Unicef senior programme officer, said they are impressed with the achievements of the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children (CCTFSC), particularly its non-formal education and health services for street kids.
With 20 years of experience in taking care of out-of-school youth, street children, children in conflict with the law and abused children, Davis believes CCTFSC has a lot of successful projects that other local government units can learn from.
“They’re all very good, very well established and very focused on their cause. It’s about the only one I’ve seen that’s gone a little step further to provide other services like Internet access to street children. It’s this going an extra mile, going one step ahead of the others that makes them different and interesting,” Davis told reporters yesterday.
Davis specifically lauded the task force’s barangay-based diversion program for minor offenders and the dynamic leadership in Cebu City in the area of programs for children.
Unicef and Canadian International Development Agency (Cida) officials were in Cebu yesterday to monitor the initial results of the implementation of the Sixth Country Program for Children (CPC 6).
Some components of the City’s program for children receive an annual funding of close to P9.3 million from the two agencies.
Lawyer Aleberto Muyot of the Unicef’s children’s justice committee said local government units are not the only ones interested to learn from Cebu City’s experience.
In the past three years, various government agencies and NGOs from Mongolia, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia and China have been coming to Cebu and have been coordinating with Unicef to learn more about the programs of the task force and the City Government, he said.
“Most of the time, we do not just sell the program for children here as the Cebu City model. We’re selling the ideas and the program as model for Unicef,” Muyot said.
At the Pari-an Drop in Center yesterday morning, CCTFSC co-chairperson Margot Osmeña briefed the officials on the success of the projects of the task force, which they got to see during a tour.
The officials had a chance to interact with some 40 street children at the drop-in center and visited the pre-natal and breastfeeding center at the Pasil health center.
They also visited about 100 children in conflict with the law at the Operation Second Chance, the first jail facility for minors in the country.
Davis was also impressed with the task force’s mobile school, which allows some 500 community-based street children to attend informal classes.
“We’re very happy with what we’ve seen. These are just some of the projects we want to take to other cities and provinces.
We’re trying to look at what Cebu City has achieved and see if we can replicate their services in other provinces and cities,” Davis said.
Despite their successful programs, Osmeña admits a lot still has to be done for the children and some government agencies. For example, the police still needs further training on how to deal with minor offenders.
Aside from programs for children, Cida country program manager Robert Patzer said they also want to focus more on preparing the youth for employment, “so they can take advantage of better job opportunities in the future.”
Cida is working on private sector development projects in Cebu and other provinces that are also seen to help bring about more employment opportunities for the youth.