Your browser has javascript turned off or blocked. This will lead to some parts of our website to not work properly or at all. Turn on javascript for best performance.

The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/windows/end-of-ie-support).

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Looking back and forward on furthering the rights of children

Two girl students and a female teacher during an outdoor performance in Zambia.
Performance at a school council in Zambia, 2014. Photo: Child Rights, Classroom, and School training programme.

For 13 years, Sociology of Law Professor Per Wickenberg ran a training programme implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in schools and education in 16 countries around the world. The effort enrolled more than 500 people from 29 countries, who initiated hundreds of local projects to better the lives children.

It started in 2003. Sweden´s Government Agency for Development Cooperation (Sida) petitioned Lund University to create an International Training Program (ITP) targeting persons in position to implement the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in their home countries. The ITP was to provide participants with knowledge of the CRC, and practical tools to implement it in school settings, immediately bettering the conditions for children.

Professor Per Wickenberg at the Sociology of Law Department was one of the team members developing the ITP, eventually named “Child Rights, Classroom and School Management”. He administered it together with senior lecturer Bodil Rasmusson at Lund University, and Ulf Leo, associate professor in sociology of law (currently at Umeå University), and personnel at Lund University Commissioned Education. During the programme, Wickenberg Rasmusson and Leo visited 25 countries, witnessing how children’s rights were implemented in a variety of education systems.

Class council in a girls' school in Kereala, India 2015
Class council in a girls' school in Kereala, India, 2015. Photo: Child Rights, Classroom, and School training programme.

During a trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2008, the researchers reported how students in a project school were engaged in implementing CRC principles.

“The local team of educators in Afghanistan had started a project to establish student councils, and the students provided what we think is a good example of children’s own understanding and meaning of participation expressed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). They appeared as independent actors in supporting a peer at school who was not being cared for and treated well by one of the parents. Some of the student council members intervened by visiting the family in the home and explaining the rights of the child. Changes in attitude and parenting by that parent were later observed by students and the principal at the school. In this case children’s agency and participation became a pathway to change, protection and justice.”

Change towards greater awareness and practice in regards to child rights often started with a single school or even a class, and spread from there, sometimes as far as neighbouring regions. But each country’s social, political and economic realities posed unique challenges. Wickenberg, Rasmusson, and Leo mention, as examples, “the history of Apartheid in South Africa, displacement of refugees in Colombia, influence from Islam in Indonesia, war in Uganda and examination oriented school system in Sri Lanka.”

“Child Rights, Classroom and School Management” resulted in 13 book reports, initiated 280 change processes, and engaged 630 change agents from 29 different countries.

A group of students sitting in front of a stage duringa schoolyard fest in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A group of students sitting in front of a stage duringa schoolyard fest in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2020. Photo: Child Rights, Classroom, and School training programme.

 

The summarizing book report of the ITP, Children´s Rights in Education: Experiences from 16 countries in Global South during 18 years as researchers and teachers, is available free on the Lund university research portal. (pdf, new window)

Read more about Per Wickenberg’s work at the Sociology of Law Department on his personal page.

 

Per Wickenberg
Per Wickenberg was a primary school teacher in the 1970s - and '80s.  Since 1993 he has been working at Lund University, with various assignments based on sociology of law-research and education.