Universal Children’s Day: Listen, what not to hear, to children | Expert network | Future Planet



“I miss the feeling of waking up early getting ready to go to school, I miss the relationship with classmates” (Female adolescent, 12-18 years old, India)

On November 20 we celebrate Universal Children’s Day. A day like that, but in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was approved, the international treaty that includes the rights of the child, the most ratified in history, and that obliges governments to comply with them. And among these, it is the right of girls and boys to be heard and taken into account.

No, it is not obvious that we listen to children. We hear them, yes, however, listening to what they say, what they demand, what they need… that is quite another thing. At Educo we know that education is the most powerful tool to build a more equitable society, in which the rights and well-being of children is assured. But we are also convinced and convinced that education must be approached with a broad perspective, which incorporates all the stages, actors and contexts that influence childhood education. It has to be an education that challenges, that transforms the current system and that recognizes that the first step to generate a change is to listen to its protagonists. An education that makes children participate and listens as subjects of rights and that takes their opinions into account, because they have many things to tell us and there is much to do.

It has to be an education that challenges, that transforms the current system and that recognizes that the first step to generate a change is to listen to its protagonists

A few days ago we remembered it in our country with the #ActivaLaEscucha campaign and the simulation of a hack of social networks by the #OchoComaDos group, the 8.2 million children who live in Spain and who demand our attention, “why not listening to us is a form of violence ”. Today we want to insist on this right again because they are the ones who express it and ask for it. We have reflected it in our recent study Global Survey 2021: The voice of 8,000 girls and boys. We have provided a space in which they have been heard through this global survey and we share it so that their answers and opinions can influence families, communities, schools or governments; in short, the key actors so that the rights of girls and boys advance.

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What have they told us? They have explained to us how the pandemic continues to affect their lives, specifically their education. They have shared with us that a good part of them and they still cannot study because their school is still closed or because they have not had an alternative that adjusted to their possibilities. And they tell us that they want to go to school, because there they learn more and better, but also because, for them, being able to be with their classmates and with the teachers, play and interact is as important as studying. They want the school of now and of the future to be better than the one that existed before the pandemic, for its environment to be greener, with more plants, gardens and trees, but they also want to maintain the advantages that digital education offers them when it is quality. This is the school they want and they have expressed it very clearly.

Many of the reflections of these days in the workplace are linked to the return to the offices, the expansion of teleworking, the learning that we have obtained and the changes that we will incorporate in a work dynamic that does not have to be the same as the one from almost two years ago. Boys and girls are asking us for the same reflection for school, what have we learned that allows us to change the usual dynamics? Boys and girls want to go back, but they want to go back to a renovated school, just like adults we want to make improvements after what we have experienced.

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The reality is that the participation of girls, boys, adolescents and young people during an emergency is usually overlooked and in this pandemic we have done it again. There has been a lack of spaces that would allow us to approach situations from what they live, think and feel, from what affects and excites them. Sometimes, and the survey gives us clues about it, they are not even aware that they have the right to have an opinion, to participate, to be taken into account when making decisions on issues that affect them. If they are not aware of their right to participate, they cannot exercise it.

Today, November 20, from Educo we believe that the best way to celebrate this day is by listening to children. Because listening to children and allowing ourselves to be questioned by what they are telling us is the only possible way to achieve, hopefully soon, that just and equitable society that they deserve.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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