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Protect migrant kids, says commission

Children of migrants 'suffer many forms of discrimination'

Protect migrant kids, says commission
Migrant children studying in a kindergarten
Stephen Hong, Seoul

February 22, 2011

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The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) has urged the government to secure the right to an education for the children among South Korea's 1 million-plus migrant population. An NHRCK sattement said "The majority of migrant children do not enter school and are vulnerable to discrimination," and called on ministers of education and justice to establish general countermeasures. According to its 2010 survey, among migrant children 61.4 percent did enter school because of the lack of Korean language ability. It also noted that many of them were discriminated against on the grounds of their poor pronunciation, skin color, poverty and poor academic ability even though they entered school. Therefore, NHRCK suggested the government strengthen Korean language education for them and prevent discrimination and human rights violations against them. Jesuit Father Francis Kim Chong-dae, director of a Jesuit migrant center, Yiutsari, said the state should actively intervene and improve migrant children's Korean language ability so that they can be smoothly included in society. To eradicate discrimination in our plural society, Father Kim suggested, educating the whole of society to respect migrant people's rights and culture is very important. Welcoming NHRCK's recommendation, Jeno Woo Jeong-won, director of Miriam Center for Migrant Women, said that besides Korean language, psychotherapy for migrant children should be conducted simultaneously. They are usually filled with anger as they grow up under the discrimination of skin color and language, she said. According to NHRCK, the country had 78,246 migrant children as of 2008. KO13382.1642

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