In addition to meeting legal obligations of the Convention to spread awareness of children’s rights to children and to adults, teaching children about their rights has the benefits of improving their awareness of rights in general, making them more respectful of other people’s rights, and empowering them to take action in support of other people’s rights. Early the relevance of the development of children of preschool age to teach children about their rights, in Belgium, Canada, England and New Zealand have provided evidence of this. Children’s human rights education refers to education and educational practices in schools and educational institutions that are consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children’s rights education is education where the rights of the child, as described in the Convention, is taught and practiced in individual classrooms. But in its most developed form, children’s rights are taught and practiced in a systematic and comprehensive way across grade levels, across the school, and across school districts. With full-blown children’s rights education, children’s rights are not simply an addition to a particular subject or classroom. Fully developed children’s rights education means that all members of the school community receive education on the rights of the child. The Convention serves as a values framework for the life and functioning of the school or educational institution and for efforts to promote a more positive school climate and school culture for learning.
A core belief in children’s rights education is that when children learn about their own basic human rights, this learning serves as an important foundation for their understanding and support of human rights more broadly. The Convention on the Rights of the child has important implications for the education of children. Approved by the United Nations in 1989, the Convention is the most widely ratified and most quickly ratified country in world history. In the Convention are numerous articles that deal with education and with children’s rights education. Eugeen Verhellen has divided the Convention’s provisions on education along three tracks.
This third track of education spells an obligation by countries and education authorities to provide for children’s human rights education. Article 29 of the Convention requires that ‘the education of the child shall be directed to the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. This presumes knowledge and understanding of rights. Mindful of this duty of disseminating knowledge and recognizing its importance, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention, has repeatedly urged countries to incorporate children’s rights into the school curricula and ensure that children know and understand their rights on a systematic and comprehensive basis. Children’s rights education in schools has value because it fulfills the obligations of countries to respect the rights of the child and implement the provisions of the Convention.
But beyond the fulfillment of a legal obligation, children’s rights education has value for children. Felisa Tibbitts has suggested that child rights education can be expected to affect learners in three ways. Research by Katherine Covell and R. Since the approval by the United Nations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, various efforts have been made to provide children’s rights education in schools. Initiatives have been undertaken mainly at the level of individual classrooms and schools. Among the earliest initiatives was one in a primary school in Bruges, Belgium.