25 SES 09, Children's Rights in Education
This paper explores the perspectives of children, young people and parents/carers, in relation to how proposed budgetary changes are likely to impact on children and young people’s understanding of themselves as rights holders.
The paper draws on findings from a research project commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) for England which aimed to identify and understand how proposed changes in public spending, as outlined in the 2014 Budget for England, are likely to impact on the rights of children and young people.
The paper addresses the following two research questions:
- How do children, young people and parents/career perceive that proposed changes in public spending, as outlined in the 2014 Budget in England, will impact on the rights of children and young people?
- How do such perceptions contribute towards the human rights education (HRE) of children and young people and impact on their understanding of themselves as rights holder?
The research was set in the context that the United Kingdom (UK) Government has adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (1989) and, as a State Party to the UNCRC, is obliged under international law to use the maximum extent of its available resources to fulfill children and young people’s right to an adequate standard of living, social security, health, education and other economic and social rights (OCC, 2013). The research findings suggested that children, young people and parents/carers considered that certain budgetary changes supported children and young people to understand themselves as rights holder, while others had a negative impact upon this understanding.
Within this paper ‘education’ will be viewed in broad terms, and relate to the ways in which children and young people encounter lived experiences Dewey, (1916). Thus, in the context of the paper, HRE will relate to children and young people’s perceptions in terms of the ways in which they consider their rights will be upheld, or otherwise, as a result of the Government’s proposed changes in public spending. Throughout the discussion, Tibbitts’ model of HRE (2002) will be drawn upon. Tibbitts’ considers HRE can be categorised within three broad categories: Values and awareness; Accountability; and Transformational. The ‘Values and awareness’ model of HRE is based upon the assumption that the main focus of HRE is to transmit knowledge of human rights issues, and to develop learners’ critical thinking in applying a human rights framework. Tibbitts’ ‘Accountability’ model of HRE focuses on ways in which children’s rights are acknowledge and upheld, and on the action taken where rights are violated; and her ‘Transformational’ model of HRE is specifically concerned with empowering others to perceive themselves as holders of human rights. Particular attention will be paid to the Accountability model of HRE and consideration given to the assumptions which underpin this, namely that those who are accountable and have an obligation to uphold children and young people’s rights will assume this responsibility and have an interest in doing so.
Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education. New York: Free Press. Office of the Children’s Commissioner (2013) A Child Rights Impact assessment of Budget Decisions: including the 2013 budget, and the cumulative impact of tax-benefit reforms and reductions in spending on public services 2010-2015. London: OCC Tibbitts, F. (2002). Understanding what we do: Emerging models for human rights education. International Review of Education, 48(3-4), 159-171. United Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child. General Assembly Resolution 44/25. 20th November 1989. U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/25.
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