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Concept of Children’s Rights
One of the more confusing concepts that I encountered in the readings was the concept of children’s rights and how it applies to education. While I do believe that children do have the right to an education, there are numerous issues such as the technical and the financial that should be taken into consideration before applying a carte blanch attitude of saying “education for all” should be the motto of all countries given that some, such as Somalia, can barely feed its population let alone provide an education.
Cultural Violation of Tradition
One particular debate that I would like to think more about is the concept of children’s rights and how it applies to various cultures. From what I could see from Ebbeck and Waniganayake (2003), Clark (2005) as well as Danby and Farrell (2004), none of these readings truly touched on the subject of culture and how different cultural values impact how the rights of children are viewed. While the rights attributed to children should be universal, the fact remains that different cultural and economic circumstances need to be taken into consideration before arbitrarily implementing what one culture views as rights but what other views as a cultural violation of tradition.
Children’s Rights in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, it is often the case that children are placed within a stringent cultural environment wherein they are taught the importance of cultural traditions, gender divisiveness, and the necessity of following the various societal rules that are a part of Saudi Arabia. What is lacking in this setting and what I have come to understand based on the readings presented in this week is that the opinions of children matter.
The ways in which children are taught dictate the future of my country. Yet, based on what I have seen so far, there is intellectual stagnation with tradition often superseding education as the primary method by which children are taught. It is based on this that I propose the creation of a forum within each school wherein children share their experience in education and elaborate on what they want and not what our society wants of them.
By understanding what children want, what they want to learn, how they want to learn it and developing this concept into new policies in education it is anticipated that not only will the country be able to move forward from the traditions that have choked innovation but can result in a better and brighter future for my country’s children as a whole. It is my belief that the voices of children are an important guiding aspect that is necessary for the formulation of any educational policy since through them we can come to understand the problems that, as a society, we in our hubris fail to notice. Traditions are important, that much is true, but they should be utilized as a means of creating an appreciation of one’s cultural heritage and not as a method of imposing one’s faults on another generation.
Problem with the concept of children’s rights
In a rather insightful look at the concept of children’s rights, Renee posited several interesting points of view, the most interesting of which involved the inclusion of children in various decision-making processes that impact their life. To be honest, the concept of children being included in any form of decision-making process eluded me. While it may be true that readings such as those by Clark (2005) and Cody (1996) elaborated on numerous instances of the necessity of children’s rights, especially in terms of education and the implementation of certain freedoms, the concept is still slightly alien to me given my background and heritage.
You see, in my culture, children are expected to respect the elderly, do as they are told, and consider the commands given to them by those older as sacrosanct and absolute. While such a concept is present in nearly all societies today, in one form or another, it is taken to such a considerable degree within Saudi Arabia that the concept of children’s rights encapsulates the protection of children but not necessarily the implementation of the same freedoms noted by Clark (2005) and Cody (1996).
Further research into this reveals a distinct similarity with the Chinese culture wherein the concept of Xiao, meaning filial piety for one’s parents, encapsulates similar traditions involving rights that do not encapsulate certain freedoms, especially in the case of a child obeying without voicing their opinion.
However, despite these lack of freedoms, this does not mean that such actions are viewed as being negative, far from it, the individual cultures I have just mentioned consider it a part of their cultural practices. Taking this into consideration, I have to say that the concept of children’s rights varies depending on individual cultures and, as such, cultural distinctions need to be taken into consideration before applying any form of children’s rights given the importance of individual cultural heritage.
Importance of Voice of Children
Overall, what has been elaborated on in this journal entry is that voice of children is an important aspect in understanding what is necessary when developing the necessary policies, whether educational or social in nature, which will impact their lives. Despite this, there needs to be a method that serves as a means of tempering the establishment of such rights given the importance of certain cultural settings.
While the general treatment of children within societies such as China and Saudi Arabia may seem arbitrarily harsh and restrictive, the fact remains that these are manifestations of their cultural heritage and should not be arbitrarily tossed aside. It is based on this that I developed the notion that forums are needed where children voice out exactly what they want out of their rights, whether it be social, political, or pertaining to education, wherein change comes from within instead of through external influence.
I believe that attempting to establish the same sorts of rights as elaborated on by Coady (1996) and Clark (2005) will not end well given the degree of hesitance and at times outright disdain of external methods of interference in established societal norms and cultural practices. As it has been proven through numerous historical accounts, external interference never ends well and, as such, it is often necessary for change to be enacted from within.
It is based on this that this entry has shown the various challenges and inherent problems that come with establishing the concept of “the voice of children” and children’s rights across borders. By examining the views I have placed here and determining where improvements can be placed, it is expected that a viable solution can be established resulting in better rights for children.
Ebbeck, M. and Waniganayake, M. (2003) Reconceptualising advocacy in early childhood (pp 161– 184), Sydney: Elsevier.
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Coady, M. (1996) Reflection on children’s rights. In Funder, K. (ed) Citizen child: Australian law and children’s rights. Melbourne: AIFS.
Clark, A. (2005) Listening to and involving young children: a review of research and practice, Early Child Development and Care, 175(6), 489-506.
Clark, P. (2005) Advocating for children’s rights: the challenges for early childhood educators. Keynote address at the Our Children the Future 4. Adelaide. SA.
Danby, S. and Farrell, A. (2004) Accounting for young children’s competence in educational research: new perspectives on research ethics. Australian Educational Researcher, 31(3), 35- 49.