25 SES 01, Children's Human Rights Education - Policy and practice
Since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereafter, UNCRC) in 1989, issues related to children’s rights have gained increased attention in various areas, such as that of education. Among the obligations that flow from the Convention is the obligation for signatory States to grant children with sufficient information about their rights, through appropriate and active means, and to promote human rights, fundamental freedoms, equality, tolerance and cultural diversity (UNCRC, art. 42 and 29). These requirements are readily understood as a legal basis for Children’s Rights Education (hereafter CRE), which is defined – in line with the broadly accepted definition of Human Rights Education – as teaching children about (knowledge), through (respect of) and for (ability to take action for) their rights (Covell, 2013; Keet, 2007; Howe & Covell, 1999; Moody, 2016; Struthers, 2015).
Since the adoption of the Convention, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have committed a fair amount of resources to develop teaching tools in order to educate children about their rights. More recently a growing community of scholars have devoted their attention to children’s rights in schools, in particular participation rights and effects of whole school reform initiatives (see Brantefors & Quennerstedt, 2016; Jerome, Emerson, Lundy & Orr, 2014; Quennerstedt, 2011). In the French speaking part of Switzerland, the adoption of a new school curriculum explicitly mentioning children’s rights as a teaching object has created a momentum: on the one hand, practioners develop specific projects and/or activities to study children’s rights and, on the other, NGOs conceive textbooks for school children and teaching methodologies to sustain those practices. Interestingly, scholars mainly receive solicitations for the assessment of the various projects. It however happens that they are requested by the stakeholders to assist the process from the start, in a transdisciplinary perspective.
Based on a logic of evidence compiling, this paper will focus on the findings of three different children’s rights education projects assessments, in which the levels of implication of the researchers vary noticeably. Exploring the relation between research and policy development in the field, this presentation aims to provide some elements of response to the following questions: What is CRE? According to whom? What criteria to define what works in the field of CRE? Who decides what works and for whom? Who is to carry out the research? And policy development? What kind of collaboration between researchers and stakeholders can be imagined? What place for children's participation?
1st project combines qualitative interviews with teachers trained in children’s rights, a Wide-ranging online survey (N=300) submitted to Swiss teachers and Educational material assessment by didactic specialists and teachers specialised in children’s rights 2nd project focuses on a primary school where a pedagogical tool (“Grandir en Paix”, Graines de Paix, 2016) was implemented during a school year. Using an ex-ante and ex-post evaluation design: the school climate was measured at the beginning of the school year by means of teacher and parent questionnaires, focus groups with students (aged 4 to 8 years old) and in-depth interviews with the school principal. After pilot classes had completed all the activities, the same evaluation methods as before application was conducted. 3rd project also builds upon an ex-ante and ex-post evaluation but on a three-year period, during which a school project based on philosophy for children is carried out. The school climate is therefore measured by means of teacher, pupil and parent questionnaires.
Based on a logic of evidence compiling, this paper will focus on the findings of three different children’s rights education projects assessments, in which the levels of implication of the researchers vary noticeably. The aim is threefold. First, we will highlight on the basis of scientific evidence “what works” in the field of children’s rights education – focusing mainly on the adherence of teachers and pupils and the intended versus effective outcomes – and in which context(s). Secondly, how the implication of researchers can be related to successes or failures of programmes and/or assessments will be analysed. Finally, the issues raised by these findings in respect to children’s rights teacher education policies as well as new research on children’s rights education will be underlined.
Brantefors, L. & Quennerstedt, A. (2016). Teaching and learning children’s human rights: A research synthesis. Cogent Education, 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1247610 Covell, K. (2013). Children’s human rights education as a means to social justice: A case study from England. International Journal for Social Justice, 2(1), 35-48. Jerome, L, Emerson, L., Lundy, L. & Orr, K. (2014). Teaching and learning about child rights: A study of implementation in 26 countries. Belfast: Queen’s University & Unicef. Howe, R.B., & Covell, K. (2005). Empowering Children: Children's Rights Education as a Pathway to Citizenship. Toronto: University Press. Keet, A. (2007). Human Rights Education or Human Rights in Education: A Conceptual Analysis. University of Pretoria. Unpublished. Moody, Z. (2016). Les droits de l’enfant : genèse, institutionnalisation et diffusion (1924-1989). Neuchâtel: Alphil. Quennerstedt, A. (2011). The construction of children’s rights in education – a research synthesis. The International Journal of Children’s Rights 19, 661–678. Struthers, A.E.C. (2015). Human rights education: educating about, through and for human rights. The International Journal of Human Rights, 19(1), 53-73.§
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