25 SES 02, Implementation and Constructions of Children’s Rights: International Perspectives
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), adopted in 1989 sets out a comprehensive protective framework to ensure adequate protection of this special group of individuals and emphasizes the obligations of the State as the provider and protector of these rights and the capacity of children themselves as agents who participate in their development through these rights (Covell and Howe, 2010; McNeil & Straky, 2010). The State is expected to fulfill its obligations to promote children’s rights via established systems of education (mainly in schools and the home; as per Articles 29 and 42).
The UNCRC was extended to Hong Kong in 1994. At present, the Hong Kong Special administrative Region (HKSAR) incorporates general human rights values into the moral and civic education programmes in educational curricula and other courses (for example General Studies, Social Studies, Liberal Studies) and has recognized the need for providing teacher training on human rights to ensure that children’s rights are adequately protected in the educational context and to enable teachers to incorporate relevant material as part of their teaching of human rights (Leung, 2007; Chan 2006). Thus, it should be expected that the UNCRC should be ‘taken-up’ in HKSAR within educational policy, teacher’s practice and training, school ethos and parenting. However, there is only limited evidence of this ‘take-up’, much of it derived from secondary schools only (Leung, 2004). Existing studies note that Human Rights Education: is not taught as a specific topic (although this may change with the new Liberal Studies curricula); is implemented in an inconsistent manner in schools by teachers who do not feel adequately trained and tend to work in a teacher-centered pedagogic atmosphere not conducive to children’s agency; may have very little connection with whole school educational policies; and is unlikely to be taught in primary schools (Fok, 2001, Leung, 2004, 2008). Further, other academic research in HKSAR suggests that the teaching of and support for children’s rights education may be affected by type of school funding body, whether it takes place in pre-school, primary or secondary school and who has executive or teaching responsibility for children’s rights education. At the same time, and in a more positive vein, the Education Bureau has recently implemented professional development programmes focusing on the rights of the child, a number of Non-Governmental Organisations have produced resources and lesson plans to promote children’s rights in classrooms and, it is expected that, parents can play a major role cultivating support for children’s rights.
To date there has not been a comprehensive ‘research study on children’s rights education to gain a holistic view of the current situation’ so that well informed decisions can be made in order to develop strategies and methods to improve education on children’s rights in Hong Kong.
Chan, K. 2006. “NGOs in schools: Hong Kong Experience” in Human Rights Education in Asian Schools, 9, 37-41 Covell, K., Howe, R. B. and. McNeil, J. K. (2010), Implementing children's human rights education in schools, Improving Schools, 13: 117, 118. Fok, S.C. 2001. “Meeting the challenge of human rights education: The case of Hong Kong.” Asia Pacific Education Review, 2(1), 56-65. Gallagher, M. (2009). Researching with Children and Young People. London: SAGE. Lee, A. and Yuen, M. 1999. “Promoting Human Rights Education in Hong Kong Secondary Schools” in Human Rights Education in Asian Schools, 2, 84-95. Leung, Y.W. 2007. “How Should We Move Forward? A Critical Review of Human Rights” in Human Rights Education in Asian Schools, 10, 143-151. Leung, Y. W. 2008. “An ‘action-poor’ Human Rights Education: a critical review of the development of human rights education in the context of civic education in Hong Kong” in Intercultural Education, 19(3), 231-242. Leung, Y. W., & Ng, S. W. (2004). Back to square one: The re-depoliticizing of civic education in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 24(1), 43-60. Osler A. & Starkey H. 2010. Teachers and Human Rights Education. Stoke-on-Trent; Sterling, VA: Trentham.
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