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Children’s Rights: A global imperative for local change

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Presentation on theme: "Children’s Rights: A global imperative for local change"— Presentation transcript:

1 Children’s Rights: A global imperative for local change
Laura Lundy Professor of Education Law and Children’s Rights Centre for Children’s Rights School of Education Queen’s University, Belfast

2 Outline The international human rights of children
The right of equal access to higher education Children’s right to have their views given due weight. An example of rights-based participation in practice The value of human children’s rights-based approaches in securing equal access to education.

3 Dignity - Equality - Respect
What are Human Rights? “The rights one has simply because one is a human being” Dignity - Equality - Respect International Human Rights Laws are politically negotiated agreements by governments to ensure these rights to people in their territory.

4 Children’s Rights are Global Human Rights
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Most universally ratified of all the UN Instruments The obligations are legally binding on the states who ratify them. “..undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights”. (Art.4)

5 Fundamental children’s rights principles
Equality Article 2: States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. Best interests Art. 3 In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. Participation Art. 12: States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

6 Right of Equal Access to Higher Education

7 The Right to Education (Art. 28, UNCRC)
States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: Make primary education compulsory and available free to all; (b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need; (c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means; (d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children; (e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

8 The aims of education (Art. 29 UNCRC)
States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to: (a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential; (b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations; (c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own; (d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin; (e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

9 The Right to Education: Tomasevski’s 4 A framework

10 “Most children enter primary school but a fraction reaches the university. Pre-requisites for moving upwards are apparently objective and justified, and are rarely challenged as a violation of the right to education. And yet, the very design of education denies an equal opportunity to reach the pinnacle to the majority of those who start school. Failures are necessary because each step upwards, the education pyramid accommodates fewer people” Tomasevski, 2006, p.103

11 The right to participate

12 “States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.” Article 12 of the UNCRC

13 The significance of Article 12
One of the most innovative (and controversial) provisions in the CRC. “recognises the child as a full human being with integrity and personality and the ability to participate freely in society.” (Freeman, 2000). Not just a right in itself but also a means of realising other rights and so a barometer for children’s rights more generally.

14 “A boy not getting a say in a conversation”

15 Article what? The Voice of the Child The Right to be Heard
The Right to Participate The Right to be Consulted The Right to Have a Say Each of these abbreviations is an imperfect summary of Article 12 and can potentially undermine its implementation (Lundy, 2007)

16 ‘Voice’ is not enough… VOICE SPACE The right to express views
Facilitated to express views freely in medium of choice SPACE Safe and inclusive opportunity to form and express a view The right to express views ARTICLE 12 The right to have views given due weight AUDIENCE The view must be listened to INFLUENCE The view must be acted upon

17 An example of children’s rights-based participation
Research for The Wellcome Trust on children’s attitudes to science assessment in primary schools in England and Wales Worked with Children’s Research Advisory Groups (CRAGS) in each country to design questionnaires and interpret the results. (C. Murphy, L. Lundy, K. Kerr and L. McEvoy, Attitudes of Children and Parents to Key Stage 2 Science Assessment and Testing, 2010)

18 What is the best way to assess primary school science?

19 Assisting children to (in)formed views (Lundy and McEvoy, 2012)

20 Helping children to reach “a clarified decision”

21 Providing space to express views freely

22 Facilitating children’s views
90% of participants indicated that they found it either useful or very useful to have other children’s views ‘It was quite interesting to hear about how other people think about science because you can decide if you have same opinions or not’ ‘It was giving you confidence to say how you feel about science’

23 Encouraging fuller responses
Participant responses in ‘free response’ boxes were noticeably more extensive and detailed: participants wrote an average of 15 words in their responses compared to an average of 6.4 words when other children’s views not provided. ‘i would assess science by doing a project and getting marks on that and maybe have a small test after. The project could be like a revision thing but better and funner’. ‘I would let the children bring their own experiments into the classroom and explain how to do them. I would encourage them to research new ideas to make it enjoyable and interesting’ ‘I would ask the class how they would like to do it’

24 Why adopt a children’s rights-based approach?

25 The value of a children’s rights framing
Global and legal legitimacy International fora for action… “the mobilisation of shame”. Emphasis on state accountability. Requirement to engage with children and young people as rights-holders and agents of change. Participation is “the right of the child and not the gift of adults.

26 A language of and for action
Rights are not mere gifts or favors…for which gratitude is the sole fitting response. A right is something that can be demanded or insisted upon without embarrassment or shame. …A world with claim rights is one in which all persons are dignified objects of respect.” (Joel Feinberg)

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