25 SES 06, Children’s Rights, Policy and Practice
Children’s rights education, citizen practice and exercise of democracy are since 2010 part of the compulsory school curriculum in Western Switzerland (Plan d’études romand, 2010). The Latin cantons education ministers’ 2003 Declaration also recognizes children’s rights as one of the basic principles of public schools (Conférence Intercantonale de l’Instruction Publique (CIIP) Declaration, 2003). This new focus is fundamental. Indeed, practice citizenship by working on, by and for the rights of the child is an essential lever for democratic and participatory classroom management. To guarantee and to promote the rights of the child in schools is a possibility for each student to become a genuine subject of rights, a full social actor and an autonomous individual (Gollob & Kraft, 2009; Howe & Covell, 2010).
However, discrepancy between prescribed curricula and teachers’ practices is well documented in the field of education. Also, the introduction of new subjects without training teachers or providing them with adequate educational material and methodologies can be problematic. What are the practices of teachers in Western Switzerland five years after the introduction of children’s rights in the school curriculum? Have they remained unchanged or have they on the contrary progressively evolved towards better account taken of children’s rights in the classroom and a finer understanding of their pedagogical implications? What educational material/methodologies do the teachers use and do they feel the need to be trained in order to make full use of it? How appropriate do they find the ready made and very formalised activities produced by non-governmental organisations? Do they feel competent to adapt them? Since the Eastern part of Switzerland has no curricular prescriptions regarding children’s rights education in schools how and to what extent do teachers practices differ from those of teachers working in Western Switzerland?
On the basis of interviews, a wide-ranging survey in Switzerland and educational material assessment, this paper will address these issues. By doing so, it will explore the gap between curricular prescriptions and teachers’ practices in the field of children’s rights education. Lessons learned from the case of Swizterland will than be generalised.
Audigier, F. (2002). L’éducation à la citoyenneté à la recherche de présences effectives. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Bildungswissenschaften, 24(3), 451-466. Gollob, R. & Krapf, P. (2009). Apprendre à connaître les droits de l’enfant: neuf modules d’enseignement pour les classes du primaire. Strasbourg: Conseil de l'Europe. Howe, R. B., & Covell, K. (2010). Children's human rights education as a means of promoting equality. Journal of Human Rights Education, 2(2), 31-41. Le Gal, J. (2008). Les droits de l’enfant à l’école pour une éducation à la citoyennté (2e Ed.). Bruxelles : De Boeck. Leleux, C. (2006). Education à la citoyenneté : les droits et les devoirs de 5 à 14 ans en 32 leçons (Tome 2). Bruxelles : De Boeck. Lundy, L. & McEvoy, L. (2009). Developing outcomes for educational services: a children’s rights‐based approach. Effective Education, 1(1), 43-60. Merieu, P. (2002). Le pédagogue et les droits de l’enfant, histoire d’un malentendu. Editions du Tricorne. Quennerstedt, A. & Quennerstedt, M. (2014) Researching children’s rights in education: sociology of childhood encountering educational theory. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 115–132. Reynaert, D., Bouverne-De Bie, M. & Vandevelde, S. (2010). Children’s rights education and social work: Contrasting models and understandings. International Social Work, 53(4), 443-456. Suarez, D. & Ramirez, F. (2004, August). Human Rights and Citizenship: The Emergence of Human Rights Education. Stanford Institute for International Studies: Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.
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