Sunday, 14 October 2007

Janus Korczak

Let us demand respect for shining eyes, smooth foreheads, youthful effort and confidence. Why should dulled eyes, a wrinkled brow, untidy gray hair, or tired resignation command greater respect?

Janusz Korczak, The child’s right to respect, 1929.

Janusz Korczak (1878 – 1942) was a Polish pediatrician and philosopher, who, early last century, established two orphanages in which he created a form of governance in which children played key roles. His educational ideas were based on his belief that children should be respected and listened to, rather than shaped and trained to according to the wants of adults. In the orphanages children operated a "parliament," held court, and published a newspaper that was distributed as a supplement to a daily with a circulation of 60,000 copies in 1926.

His books How to Love a Child and The Child´s Right to Respect provided teachers and parents with new insights into child psychology. He also wrote books for children such as the classic King Matt the First, which tells of the adventures and tribulations of a boy king who aspires to bring reforms.

As a children's advocate, Janusz Korczak spoke of the need for a Declaration of Children's Rights long before any such document was drawn up by the Geneva Convention or the United Nations General Assembly. Here is a link that compiles the rights Korczak envisaged as most important for children.

Janusz Korczak was killed in 1942 by the Nazis, during the Holocaust, together with the children he cared for.

More information about the life and writings of Korczak can be found below:

More information is being made available on the internet about Korczak, however, his writings are only partly accessible online. Let us hope more of his writings will be downloadable from the internet in the future.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

International Movement of Working Children

Below is some information what the international movement of working children is all about:

Who are the Movements
The Working Children Movements have been active in Latin America, Africa and Asia since the 1970s. These local organisations are a fundamental, and often the only, instrument for protection and promotion of their rights.

The Movements have been promoting projects on the following lines of action: rights education, public education, health, recreation, participation and organisation. The principles that guide this process are the protagonism of children and adolescents, respect for rights, and a critical evaluation of work.

Terminology used by organised Working Children to identify themselves
Different terminology is used to identify organised Working Children, and it is linked to the various continental and local languages. We are going to mention only the main ones, despite the innumerable forms and dialects to be found in many areas of Africa and Asia. NATs (Niños y Adolescentes Trabajadores) is a Latin American acronym which translates into English as «child and adolescent workers». In English-speaking countries we use Working Children and in francophone countries EJT (Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs).

Methods of organisation and action of the Movements
When analysing the Working Children Movements, we must look at their organisational structure and the pedagogical methods they employ to guarantee an impact through their activities. They are helping children become aware of their own rights and are constantly working to guarantee that they be respected by identifying alternative solutions to exploitation, abuse, discrimination and injustice.

Through their organisational processes, working children and adolescents come out of individual isolation, and start a process of reciprocal recognition as a social group. Through this principle, which is the basis of their collective identity, they start to meet to discuss their problems, to propose initiatives and organise a response. During this process, they are able to create a subjective public and political presence, reaching increasingly complex levels. Therefore, group identity is transformed into a capacity for mobilization and protagonism, from the local, national to international levels.

The term “Movement”, used to define the local groups and associations of working children and adolescents, alludes to a fundamental characteristic of organisation and action of these new social actors.

A social movement is a form of collective action that calls for solidarity that shares a common goal. Its members recognize each other as equals, as active citizens with the same problems, because they come from a given social sector. On the other hand, a movement indicates the existence of social conflict.

Organised Working Children and Adolescents ask to be recognised as Social Movements that work within society to guarantee working children’s rights, and those of children in general. They work on the local and national levels, without forgetting the essential opportunities that are provided by their organisation on the intercontinental and world levels, which is strengthening with time.

“Participation” is fundamental in the Movements’ initiatives. Working Children have organised themselves in a social movement that is struggling to recover full democratic rights for children and adolescents. This means that children and adolescents participate fully in their «own» organisations, in order to recover the full status of citizenship. For example, the Movements have a democratic process for electing both their delegates and their accompanying adults. Even the management and representation of the Working Children’s organisations (whether in the day to day local initiatives or in the wide horizon of international ones), is the responsibility of these delegates who represent their peers.

Organised working children and adolescents have been promoting the importance of participation for the past 30 years, even tough the large international agencies are only just now recognising its significance. It is the main tool to bring about consciousness-raising regarding their situation. The more complete term, “protagonism”, includes everything from exchanges on the social level, to the educational process of perceiving ones own possibilities and rights, to finding common solutions to improve living and working conditions for working children and children in general.

The Continental Movements move towards a world-wide dimension
On the international level, the Working Children Movements began to coordinate their efforts of solidarity and collaboration in 1996, in Kundapur meeting, India. There, 34 delegates of the three continents participated in drafting the 10 points summarising their common struggles and claims (see document: Kundapur Declaration), the first and foremost of which was that their voice be heard and taken into consideration in decisions that affect them directly.

The World Movement had faced and overcome many obstacles when they were able to meet again in 2002 in Milan. There they expressed the need to have a world meeting. They accomplished this goal in 2004, when 33 delegates from Africa, Asia and Latin America met for the 2nd World Meeting of Working Children Movements, in Berlin (see document: Berlin Declaration).

This process continued in 2005, when a small delegation of working children from the three continents was able to meet in Kundapur (India). During this preparatory meeting they defined the agenda and the main issues to be discussed during the 3rd World Meeting of Working Children Movements that took place in Siena in October, 2006 (See document: Siena Declaration).

Source: Italianats website

Italianats is an Italian association of NGO's, unions and companies aiming to support and promote the movement of working children and youth.

The International Movement has met 3 times. All the declarations made at the end of meetings of the International Movement of Working Children and regional meetings since 1996 can be found at the Italianats site, most of them downloadable in 4 different languages. Click here to go the page directly.

Working children and youth organisations and movements

Working children and youth organisations and movements

I came across a position paper by Nandana Reddy of Concerned for Working Children, on how young workers see their work. This document is a useful compilation of extracts from several Working Children Declarations, quotes from the documentary film Taking Destiny in their Hands, and answers to a questionnaire that was sent out to the three movements of working children in Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

The compilation is organized region wise, with a common framework of six questions:
  1. What is the International movement?
  2. Child and work: is work a good place for a child? Does it depend on the age of the child?
  3. Good work – Bad work : What kind of work a child can and cannot do?
  4. What does work bring to children’s lives?
  5. ILO and working children: are the convention 138 and 182 good for them?
  6. Movement history: did their positions change with time? Are there differences of opinion between the members?
It starts with explaining the position of the International Movement – as it presents the foundational principles all the movements agree on, and then goes on to describe the regional positions. The document ends with some general observations.

NOTE: Throughout, the document speaks of the "Asian Movement", which is rather unfortunate since Southeast and East Asia region is not represented in this movement. It is not a matter of exclusion - from either side, however, the organisation of working children has developed differently in Southeast and East Asia.

More about the International Movement of Working Children (also referred to as the World Movement of Working Children) in the next post.

A Journey in Children's Participation


A Journey in Children’s Participation. By Nandana Reddy and Kavita Ratna. 2002, Bangalore: Concerned for Working Children

This is one of my favourite publications about protagonism of children.

The Concerned for Working Children have been working in partnership with children for over 25 years, to enhance their protagonism and participation and realise their rights. This document brings together some of the experiences and perceptions related to children’s participation that have been gathered over the years.

The link to this website is an updated version, dated December 2002, which includes many concrete examples of what is being discussed in the text.

From the introduction:

Children’s Participation is not a project, it is not event based; it is a running theme through every action or intervention and it requires a major paradigm shift. The understanding of participation and the way it is translated into action varies and seems to be defined by the socio-cultural context of the child and the ideological frame

surrounding this understanding. However it is important to arrive at a culturally neutral definition of children’s participation, where the principles are common, though the manifestations may vary according to the situation of children.

When Children’s Participation is seen within the frame of protagonism it takes on another dimension. The right and the ability to advocate on one’s own behalf, to be in control and a part of decision making processes and interventions. This form of participation of children and youth enhances the concept of civil society participation and strengthens democratic processes.

Children’s participation should enhance children’s personhood. Often their individual growth is side lined, especially when they are a part of an organisation. Children’s participation should also be in keeping with their capacity and ability (milestones of development) and contribute positively to the process of children’s growth and development. However, all this operates within the context of children’s rights and their participation is the means by which children realise their rights.


Sunday, 7 October 2007

Child and youth participation resource guide

Child and youth participation resource guide
By Junita Upadhyay. 2006, Bangkok: UNICEF. isbn 974 68507 2 5

This resource guide has been very popular from the moment it came out and it is now available on the web. The good thing about this guide is the categorisation in different areas and the fact that most documents are downloadable from the internet.

From the guide:

The participation of children and youth in schools, community action, media, and governance has gained growing support over the past 15 years. This interest in their active involvement is being stimulated by a greater recognition of children’s and youth citizenship and their rights to expression.

This Child and Youth Participation Resource Guide was jointly compiled by UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office and published in June 2006, as a response to a growing need to organize the large and diverse literature on children's participation. It provides information on publications that focus on the protection of children and adolescents from exploitation, violence and abuse, child and youth participation in community and national programmes, HIV prevention, health, hygiene and sanitation and more.

How to Use This Document

This document is divided into several sections focusing on different areas in which the participation of children and youth have been prominent. In each section the author, title and brief summary of the document is included and hyperlinks are given for the full text PDF version for each publication. The link will lead you to an outside web platform. An e-mail address of the appropriate contact person has been provided when the publication cannot be directly linked. Please contact this individual/organization to acquire the document.

The Adolescent Development and Participation Unit at UNICEF Headquarters is presently preparing to make this guide available as an interactive web-based resource for wider use by its staff, partners, governments, policy makers, non-governmental and civil society organizations and especially children and youth themselves.

Looking for childhood book reviewers

Childhood studies
A journal of global child research is looking for reviewers for a variety of books. Please contact Prof. Dr. Leena Alanen and ask for a list if you are interested in reviewing books. You are also invited to recommend other books of interest for reviewing in the journal – she’d be happy to contact their publishers and ask for copies to be added to the list. Books published in the Anglophone academic world practically make 100 % of books sent by publishers to the journal for reviewing. This is fairly obvious for a number of reasons: the language of the journal is English and publishers of books in other languages can hardly count on a big enough clientele for their publications in the English-language countries, and therefore do not offer their publications for reviewing. It would however be important also to make the non-English section of childhood studies available to the international readership of Childhood; otherwise it is the English-language research literature that unfortunately has to represent what is done in the field. Prof. Alanen would therefore especially like to encourage you who are readers of non-English childhood research as well as know of books on childhood published in other languages to come forward with suggestions of books for reviewing in Childhood.

Source: e-mail message from:
Leena Alanen, Professor (Early Childhood Education), Department of Educational Sciences, P.O.Box 35, FIN-40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland, e-mail:

Children's voices in child protective proceedings - overview of 195 countries

Do you want to know whether children have the right to express their opinions in court proceedings in Azerbaijan or Kiribati? You can find it at a database of the Yale Law School, together with all the other countries you can think of. It is part of a survey, Representing Children Worldwide, conducted at the Yale Law School researching the legal provisions of 194 countries concerning how children's voices are heard in child protective proceedings in 2005.

The website has concise information about the law that relates to children's opinions in child protective proceedings in 195 countries together with relevant references. In many cases the information is provided in the original language with (sometimes unofficial) English translation.

The site also provides:

Country Category Chart

Which categorizes the countries by both mandatory and discretionary legal models.

Country by Country Chart

Which provides a brief description of each country's child protective proceedings, explaining the way that children convey their opinions, where applicable.

From the website:
"Representing Children Worldwide is a research project which compiles information and resources on how children's voices are heard in child protective proceedings around the country and around the world in the year 2005. The website provides a summary of the practices of the 194 signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) with respect to this question, as well as background information on the jurisdiction's child protective practices and web resources and contact information for further research in this field.

Our research focuses particularly on how different countries' practices relate to Article 12 of the CRC, which guarantees children's right to express views freely in all matters concerning them, and particularly to be heard in all judicial and administrative proceedings that concern them.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Monitoring and evaluation of children’s participation in development projects


Monitoring and evaluation of children’s participation in development projects.

By Gina Arnillas Traverso and Nelly Pauccar Meza (researchers) and Gina Solari and Blanca Nomura (coordinators). 2007, Lima: Save the Children Sweden, ISBN 978 9972 696 51 0

I promise you, this is not easy reading, even when your native tongue is Spanish, in which case you might as well read the original.... However, as soon as you have gone through the more conceptual and theoretical discourse this publication becomes surprisingly practical and to the point. Indicators for children's participation need to have a sound grounding and once you have sorted that out you can look at very concrete and useful evidence that helps you understand and measure the impact of children's involvement in project development, implementation and evaluation of its impact.

Another good thing about this publication is that the indicators have been identified and developed together with children, through a thorough process of consultation and validation.

Legislative History of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Legislative History of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Volumes I and II.
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Save the Children Sweden (SCS). 2007, New York and Geneva: United Nations

In addition to the travaux preparatoires of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - produced by Sharon Detrick (which, unfortunately, has only been available in hard copy) there now is an extensive compilation of the legislative history of the Convention on the Rights of the Child written by Simone Ek who has been involved in the 10 year long drafting process of the CRC right from the start. Simone Ek compiled the proceedings of the debates during 1979–1987, which form the basis for the Legislative History of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The publication can be a support for governments, Convention states, UN organs, international voluntary organisations and universities in their work to make the Convention on the Rights of the Child easier to understand. The aim has been to explain the thinking behind the decisions. It also illuminates the important part that non-governmental organisations have played in this work

Find all the discussions on children's participation rights at pages 437 - 471.

Download PDF from:

A hard copy can be obtained at SCS in Stockholm for 349 SEK exclusive postage.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Children's participation in events with adults


Patricia del Pilar Horna Castro

Easier to say than to do. Children’s participation in events with adults.

2007, Lima: Save the Children Sweden Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. ISBN 978-9972-696-50-3

This is a recent English translation of the Spanish original.

This is one of many downloadable publications by Save the Children Sweden in Latin America. They have an excellent, regularly updated, website with information in Spanish, English and Portuguese. I will post more information from this website shortly.

From the introduction to this book:

“Children’s participation is, without any doubt, a key issue in our societies. There is plenty and varied literature regarding children’s participation. The civil society and the States are now facing this global challenge. This guide, developed by Patricia Horna, is useful in many ways: it simultaneously introduces profound considerations, mandatory theoretical background, and above all, a friendly way to enhance the relationships between adults and children when they participate in the same activities.”

(Alejandro Cussianovich, p.7)

The book provides a review on the different approaches, conceptions and myths on children and adult participation in training workshops, seminars, discussion roundtables, etc.

“It is addressed to adults who have understood that they cannot speak about what children feel or think without considering and incorporating their very voices. And, of course, it will also be useful for children to keep watch so conditions in these events meet the conditions for a “real and effective” participation, just as they have demanded.

This material wants to contribute precisely to what many adults frequently hear, read, and say: children have a right to express themselves freely in every aspect which affects them —in other words, they have a right to participate.”


“….the book is divided in three chapters which are, at the same time, the three big steps we are proposing to follow. The first one displays the current approaches and ideas on children’s participation; the second refers to the myths around children’s participation in events with adults, and the third chapter provides guidelines, ideas and suggestions which will render conditions for an effective and active participation.”


Thursday, 4 October 2007

Geographical Information Systems use in research with children

An exciting project is ongoing in Finland where researchers use GIS in a very interactive, creative and fun way to do research with children on the quality of their living environment. Children can identify their own neighbourhood, their own houses and schools and indicate things such as how they spend their free time, what they consider to be safe or dangerous places, and how they make use of and perceive their environment. They can also answer questions in relation to their wellbeing.

See and try it out here!

For more information visit SoftGIS in Finland, or get in touch with the leading researcher:

Marketta Kytta
Centre for urban and regional studies
Helsinki University of Technology

For the academically inclined, view her dissertation "Children in Outdoor Contexts - Affordances and Independent Mobility in the Assessment of Environmental Child Friendliness"

Children's involvement in local budgeting

Children and young people in action, participating in budget work
Editors: Margarida Maria Marques, Neiara de Morais Bezerra, Renato Roseno de Oliveira,Talita de Araujo Maciel. The Ceará Centre for Protection of Children and Adolescents – CEDECA-Ceará, Brazil, November 2005. ISBN: 0-620-35519-0.

This document describes the process of the involvement of a group of young people in the monitoring of the public budget of Fortaleza, in Brazil.

In 1999 CEDECA-CEARÁ initiated its programme of monitoring the Fortaleza city budget. This was done from the understanding that the struggle for the human rights of children and young people has to be conducted through the discussion of public policies that give effect to these rights, by knowing about the allocation of public resources to implement those policies and through social control in the allocation and spending of public resources.

Brazilian society has managed, through a process of broad social mobilisation, to have written into the 1988 Federal Constitution that children and young people have rights and that these need to be fully protected as a matter of absolute priority. Further, the Children and Adolescents Act (ECA) stipulates that meeting this priority envisages children having first call on public resources. Unfortunately, the democratic culture of the country does not fully recognise the rights of children and young people nor does it allow for the exercising of social control of public budgets.

Therefore, taking as a main objective the promotion of social control of policies and public budgets, the programme uses three complementary strategies: the empowerment of organised groups within civil society; the provision of technical subsidies for intervention in the drafting and implementation of budgetary legislation; and support during active mobilization and lobbying for the development of public policies for children and young people.

During the first three years, our principal partners were NGOs, forums and networks for the protection of the rights of children and young people. These were important partnerships, as the most significant networking among children’s rights organizations today includes a focus on budgetary issues in the city and in the State of Ceará. One example is the case of the DCA-Ceará Forum (a Forum of Non-governmental Organisations for the Protection of Children and Young People), which took the matter of budget allocations directly to the State, the Commission for the Protection of the Right to Education and the Forum Against Sexual Violence of Children and Adolescents.

Nevertheless, the perception that there were organised groups of young people in our city, discussing rights and public policies, but that they were absent from the decision-making processes on these same policies, led us to reconsider our project. Why had these groups not yet achieved the right to be heard? This question and the meeting with our partner, Save the Children Sweden, for whom direct participation is a fundamental principle of work focusing on rights, led us to the conviction that one cannot speak of democracy while excluding such a significant group within the population, even more so when the subject is precisely the policies targeting that very group. The story told here is that of the first experience of empowering and supporting groups of young people to intervene in the public budgeting process. In this narrative we describe the phases of that empowerment as well as the involvement of these young people in pressure groups for the development of budgetary legislation.

We are not dealing with a methodology created by or exclusive to CEDECA-Ceará, but rather formulated during the first year of the project with the active participation of the young people involved. The approach was adapted to daily events and the reality in which we found ourselves, taking into account the diversity of the young people, with the CEDECA team not only filling the role of educator, but also that of apprentice. Daily practices were revised and adjusted to respond to the problems and difficulties that we confronted during the project.

If certain doubts remained regarding the relevance of a project to align the public budget with the promotion of the right to participation, these doubts have been replaced by the certainty that participation is something quite necessary, not only for the young people, but also for the city.

For CEDECA-Ceará, promoting the exercise of the right to participate is about more than protecting that right; it is also a strategy to strengthen the protection of all the human rights of children and young people.

As posted on IDASA website. IDASA, in South Africa, has a children's budget unit, more about that later.

Hard copies can be ordered at:
Save the Children Sweden
Regional Office for Southern Africa
PO Box 13993
Hatfi eld, 0028
Tel: +27 (0)12 342 0222
Fax: +27 (0)12 342 0305