Saturday 1 September 2007

Children's participation in China

From Performance to Practice: Changing the Meaning of Child Participation in China by Andy West, Chen Xue Mei, Zhou Ye, Zhang Chun Na, Chen Qiang, in Children, Youth and Environments 17(1): 14-32.

Andy West and his colleagues have written an excellent article that gives a good insight in the concept and practice of children's participation in modern China.

The article discusses some recent developments in children’s participation in China, indicating a shift is taking place in the meaning of the term “participation,” away from the traditional idea of participation as performance, which fits with school and other childhood cultures, toward taking children more seriously.

The authors describe how children's participation has been advocated in the social, cultural and political context of China focusing on how it can be done and how it can make a difference in research and working with children.

“However, arguing for children’s participation as a right is probably neither the only nor the best strategy: there must also be some demonstration of what participation is and how it can be achieved.”


“Training alone has not been successful in changing the notion of participation from one of performance and activities to acceptance of true participation as a right. Recognition of practical, useful forms of participation by adults in positions of authority was a necessary starting point. These forms include children being consulted and involved in decisions on matters to do with community, school management, and where children live. The institutionalization of such participation requires changing adult practice and attitudes.
This need to develop practical participation work still requires basic training and understanding. However, the need to show how participation can be done must also avoid the trap of providing ready-made recipes.” (p.9)

The article also accounts of what is “probably the first child- and youth-operated organization in China: called “Springbud Service Station for Disabled Children and Young People,” founded in 2004 and registered in 2005.

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