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Realizing the Rights of the Child 104

Children and the Right

to Education
Annedore Prengel and Bernd Overwien
Translated by Salomé Hangartner

Introduction human beings with specific, subjective proper-

“Children” and “Education” – these two terms ties that, in part, differ from those of adults,
are suggestive of an elementary condition of but which also – depending on age and develop-
human existence. Human life is determined by ment possibilities – may be action-competent
a continuous change of generations.1 ­Human players.4 There is one basic requirement for any
beings come into the world as very small chil- cognitive, emotional, and social education of all
dren, grow up and into the world they encoun- children – physical well-being. The provision of
ter, become adults, and old, and finally leave food, clothing, a home, protection against viol­
this world. For the universal “anthropological ence and abuse as well as help when they have
fact” of growing up, a classic formulation re- experienced violence or are ill, contribute to
ferring to the need of education is to be found their well-being. The less this provisioning and
with Immanuel Kant:2 “The human being can help are possible in keeping with the child’s age,
only become human by education.” If children the less education will be possible. This is why
are deprived of or only insufficiently provid- the right to education fundamentally also de-
ed with education, they can barely develop and pends on the children’s physical condition.
frequently not even survive.3 But at the very The universal childhood phase of life is de-
least, essential opportunities of life are with- signed in highly diverse ways in different cul-
held from them. Human beings need a “Right tures, different social groups and classes, and
to Education” because we grow up and because over and above in each individual biography,
growing up goes along with being educated by and has historically developed along highly dif-
­others, educating ourselves along the way. Thus, ferent lines. Terms such as “education,”5 even
children ought not to be seen merely as hold- the very term of “childhood,” are indeed based
ers of rights, but also as “social subjects,” i.e. as on the universality of generation change, but
Children and the Right to Education 105

they have arisen in specific historical and cultur- conditions overlap in individual life contexts
al situations and often mean different things, and contribute to the individual life history of
also in those situations. The history of child- each child and assure that each child is a unique
hood and education is described and evaluat- personality.
ed differently in historical childhood research.6 From the perspective of children’s rights,
For insight on the social construct of childhood three aspects of education can be differentiat-
and thus also for the educational processes, the ed: The right to education, rights within educa-
work Geschichte der Kindheit (The Centuries tion, and rights through education.10 The right
of Childhood) by Philippe Ariès was pioneer- to education has to do with the question how
ing. Aries has been much criticized since then. far and in what quality education is made pos-
But it remains to be stated that childhood is the sible for children. Rights within education refer
result of a historic process. In his foreword to to the question regarding the context in which
the German edition of Geschichte der Kindheit, education is transmitted, and how the chil-
Hartmut v. Hentig states: “We think of children dren’s rights become effective within the educa-
as if they were grass – the same at all times. (…) tion process. The rights through education refer
That this is not true I have now learned – to- to the matter as to how education enables chil-
day’s children are quite evidently children of dren to exercise their rights and to act as com-
their time and their environment …”7 petent citizens.11
Consequently, the losses modern times en- After these introductory remarks, the fol-
tail for children are, in part, emphasized: Isola- lowing contribution focuses on four issues: In
tion due to the loss of large families; desen­sual­ the first part, we look into internationally rel­
ization by technical media and urbanization; evant documents manifesting the right to edu­
burdened by over-schooling, impoverishment cation. In the second and third parts, the im-
due to colonization and globalization. In part, portance of the right to education and some
the historic development of childhood is inter- typical forms of encroachment in two succes-
preted more as a history of progress in which sive phases of growing up are outlined. In the
children find more recognition and are less ex- fourth part, internationally active ­organizations
posed to violence.8 working on behalf of children’s right to educa-
In our world with its immense diversity tion will be presented.
of cultures, there are as many varied forms of
growing up.9 The way in which children grow up The UN Convention on the Rights of the
and are educated also depends on the econom- Child and the right to education
ic life situation in which they live; which gen- The Convention on the Rights of the Child ad-
der they belong to; who their parents are; in opted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 is
what family situation they are; what peer group a milestone of current children’s policy and re-
they belong to; the region they live in; whether fers to all children and juveniles up to the age
they are migrants or not; whether they are af- of 18. It serves the concrete implementation
fected by impairments or illnesses. Many other of the General Declaration on Human Rights
dimensions determining and influencing chil- of the United Nations with regard to children
dren’s lives could be listed. All these childhood and commits politicians and legislation to ac-
Realizing the Rights of the Child 106

knowledge children as subjects of the law. All­ e. Take measures to encourage regular atten-
­nations of the world, with the exception of So- dance at schools and the reduction of drop-out
malia and the USA, have ratified the Conven- rates;
tion on the Rights of the Child. This means that 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate
the Convention on the Rights of the Child has ­measures to ensure that school discipline is ad-
the greatest acceptance among all conventions ministered in a manner consistent with the child’s
adopted by the UNO. At the same time, viola- human dignity and in conformity with the pres-
tions of children’s rights are to be found in all ent Convention.
nation states of the world. The same as dec- 3. States Parties shall promote and encourage
larations and articles of the constitution con- international cooperation in matters relating to
cerning human rights, the Convention on the education, in particular with a view to contribut-
Rights of the Child also offers standards for ing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy
analyzing violations of rights, making such vio- throughout the world and facilitating access to
lations public and reducing them. scientific and technical knowledge and modern
All articles of the Convention on the Rights teaching methods. In this regard, particular ac-
of the Child may be related to the right to edu­ count shall be taken of the needs of developing
cation; Articles 28, 29, and 31 formulate it di- countries.
rectly as follows:
Article 29 [educational objectives;
Article 28 [the right to education, educational institutions]
schooling, and vocational training]
1. States Parties agree that the education of the
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child child shall be directed to:
to education, and with a view to achieving this a. The development of the child’s personality,
right progressively and on the basis of equal op- talents, and mental and physical abilities to their
portunity, they shall, in particular: fullest potential;
a. Make primary education compulsory and b. The development of respect for human rights
available free to all; and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles
b. Encourage the development of different forms enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
of secondary education, including general and c. The development of respect for the child’s par-
vocational education, make them available and ents, his or her own cultural identity, language and
accessible to every child, and take appropriate values, for the national values of the country in
­measures such as the introduction of free edu­ which the child is living, the country from which
cation and offering financial assistance in case he or she may originate, and for civilizations dif-
of need; ferent from his or her own;
c. Make higher education accessible to all on the d. The preparation of the child for responsible
basis of capacity by every appropriate means; life in a free society, in the spirit of understand-
d. Make educational and vocational informa- ing, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friend-
tion and guidance available and accessible to all ship among all peoples, ethnic, national, and re­
children; ligious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
Children and the Right to Education 107

e. The development of respect for the natural

2. No part of the present article or Article 28
shall be construed so as to interfere with the
­liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and
direct educational institutions, subject always to
the observance of the principle set forth in para-
graph 1 of the present article and to the require-
ments that the education given in such institu-
tions shall conform to such minimum standards
as may be laid down by the State.

Article 31 [participation in leisure, cultur-

al and artistic life, promotion by the State]

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child

to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recre-
ational activities appropriate to the age of the
child and to participate freely in cultural life and
the arts.
2. States Parties shall respect and promote the
right of the child to participate fully in cultural and
artistic life and shall encourage the provision of
appropriate and equal opportunities for cul­tural,
artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

In this extract from the UN Convention on

the Rights of the Child, essential aspects of
the right to education are clearly formulated.
Among others – herewith summarized to sim-
plify – they include the right to schooling free
of charge of adequate quality, the right to a suit-
able education all the way to vocational train-
ing or higher education, the right to learn about
human rights, the right to have his or her per-
sonality developed and the right to leisure time
with recreation, play, and creativity.
Notes 267

4   International Labour Organization, Facts on internationally valid and certifiable standard

Child Labour. for socially responsible corporate management.
5   Family Health Initiative, Orphans and other The emphasis is on securing the rights of the
vulnerable children support toolkit. employees – and in this context primarily those
6   OECD, Education at a Glance 2004 – Tables. of subcontracting suppliers. http://www.bsd-net.
7   World Bank, 2006 World Development com/sa8000_d.html
Indicators. Poverty is defined as living on less 4   Clean Clothes Campaign: The Clean Clothes
than USD 1 per day. Campaign, CCC, which in turn is supported by
8   Unicef, Report Card no. 6: Child Poverty in Rich many NGOs and labor unions around the
Countries 2005. ­Poverty is defined as living on world, ad­­vo­cates the rights of workers and the
less than 50% of the national median income. ­improve­ment of working conditions in the inter­­-
national garment and sportswear industries.
When Fashion Means Respect
Anne Rüffer, Joy Altenburger Erklärung von Bern (EvB) (The Bern ­Declaration)
1   FWF: FWF stands for good working con­ditions in is an independent, development-policy organi­
textile manufacture. The non-­profit organiza­ zation and is largely supported by its members
tion verifies the implementation of the textile and donors. The EvB advocates global justice
code of conduct of participating companies with and is committed to the areas of economic
independent teams. relationships, trade policy, culture, agriculture,
2   Helvetas: Swiss Society for International Coopera- nutrition, and fair trade.
tion. Helvetas advocates improved living 5   SGS: SGS is a pioneer with regard to i­ nspection and
conditions for the underprivileged rural popula­ surveillance services in industry, in interna­tional
tion in the poorest countries of the world. Its trade, in agriculture, in the ­commodities, oil,
focus is on basic needs such as drinking water, and consumer goods industries. Over and above,
food, income, education, co-determination, the SGS offers certification and other services
and peace. for governments, institutions, and organiza­-
3   BSCI: The BSCI, Business Social Compliance Initia- tions.
tive, is the common European platform of
retailers, industry, and importing companies for Children and the Right to Education
monitoring and improving social standards in Annedore Prengel, Bernd Overwien
all supplier countries and for all consumer goods. 1   Wulf/Liebau 1996. 2   1803; cf. also Tenorth 2005.
ISO 26000: Social Responsibility ISO, the Inter- 3   Mannoni 2001; Spitz/Cobliner 2005.
national Organization for Standardization 4   Cf. Liebel 2007, p. 150ff.
has decided to launch the development of an In- 5   “Bildung” is a term that is deeply anchored in the
ternational Standard providing guidelines for German cultural context; it relates specifically to
social responsibility (SR). The guidance standard “education.” In English, both terms are summed
will be published in 2008 as ISO 26000 and its up by “education,” in Spanish by “educación.”
use will be voluntary. It will not include require- In the French or Spanish context, the terms of
ments and will thus not be a certification “formation” or “formación” have to be added.
standard. 6   Cf. e.g. Ariès 2003; de Mause 1982.
fetch/2000/2122/830949/3934883/3935096/ 7   Hentig 1975, p. 32.
home.html?nodeid=4451259&vernum=0 8   Cf. also Hungerland 2007.
SA 8000: Social Accountability 8000 is the first 9   Trommsdorf 1995.
Realizing the Rights of the Child 268

10   Cf. Verhellen 1993. Entwicklung. Munich; Engl.: (1966) Child Care

11   Liebel 2007, p. 80. and the Growth of Love. Penguin Books.
12   Klaus/Klaus 1998. Harmondsworth.
13   Als 1996. Committee on the Rights of the Child (2006). Moni-
14   Bowlby 2001, Stern 1998. toring Children’s Rights.
15   KFW Entwicklungsbank 2004, p. 4. english/bodies/crc/index.html
16   Küper (2003). (download 18 Oct. 2006)
17   UNICEF 2000/47. De Mause, L. (1982). Hört ihr die Kinder weinen.
18   Cf. Overwien 2005, p. 399 ff. Frankfurt/Main, Engl. (1974) The History of
19   Niedrig 2002. Childhood. The Psycho­history Press. New York.
20   Oxaal 1997, p. 12. Dewey, J. (2000). Demokratie und ­Erziehung.
21   Cf. Lang-Wojtasik 2001. Weinheim Basel, Engl. (2005) ­Democracy and
22   Tillman 2005. education. Dover Publishers.
23   Tillmann 2005, p. 11. Edelstein, W. (2002). “Unsere Schule ruft Gewalt
24   Overwien/Pregel 2007. hervor” – intervivew with Ulrich Schnabel in:
25   Cf. the summary of Krappmann 2006. Die Zeit No. 20, Internet: http://www.zeit.
26   Cf. Edelstein 2002. de/2002/20/Hochschule/200220_i-edelstein.
27   Cf. e.g. Benbenishty/Zeira/Astor 2002; html. (situation 08 Dec. 2006)
Prengel/Heinzel 2003. Epp, J.R. (ed.) (1996). Systemic Violence. How schools
28   Prengel 2005. hurt children. London.
29   Krumm 1999; Hyman/Perone 1998. Hammarberg, Th. (1998). A School for Children with
30   Cf. Prengel 2002. Rights – the significance of the ­United Nations
31   Cf. e.g. Prengel/Meiß 2003; ­Sliwka 2001; Convention on the Rights of the Child for
Selby/Rathenow 2003. Modern Education Policy. Florence.
32   Krappmann 2006, p. 153. Heinzel, F. & Geiling, U. (ed.) (2004). Demokratische
33   National Coalitions for the rights of the Perspektiven in der Pädagogik. Wiesbaden.
child 2006. Hentig, H. von (1975). Vorwort. In: Ariès, Ph.: Ge­
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index.html Hungerland, B. (2007). Die neuen Kindheits­wis­sen­­-
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Realizing the Rights of the Child 298

on Human Rights (IACHR) Organization of the Daniel Rüfenacht’s professional path began in the
American States (OAS). Pinheiro also served Swiss Office for Trade Expan-
as Secretary of State for Human Rights under sion OSEC where he dealt with
President Cardoso, Brazil. He has published many the sales promotion in favor
articles, essays and books on social history, of developing countries in the
democracy, violence and human rights. He lives sectors of fashion, biological
with his wife Ana Luiza and their son André in and organic fabrics, crafts, and
Geneva, Providence and São Paulo. inventions. In this function,
he also participated in the development of a so­
cial Swiss trademark and carried out tests of
Prof. Dr. Annedore Prengel, born 1944, is an edu­ social compatibility in Africa and Asia for attain­
cational scientist at the Institute ing this trademark. Parallel to his business ac­
for Primary School ­Pedagogics in tivities, he obtained a post-graduate diploma in
the areas of initial instruction, ecology from the Académie internationale de
social learning, and integration l’environnement in Geneva. After having gained
of disabled children at Potsdam experience in the textile industry in Zurich,
University. Among others, he joined the Switcher Inc. team to deal with
she has published the following sustainable development and communication.
books: Recht auf Bildung (The right to education), After 18 months of professional education,
upon the visit of the Social Rapporteur of the he obtained an MBA in communication from the
United Nations in Germany. Opladen 2007 (to­ Universities of Lugano and Memphis. He is a
gether with Bernd Overwien); Pädagogik der Viel­ member of the Switcher Management Board.
falt. Verschiedenheit und Gleichberechtigung in As Director of the Compliance & Integrity depart­
interkultureller, feministischer und integrativer ment he primarily sees to it that the Switcher
Pädagogik (Pedagogics of Diversity, Differences Code of Conduct is applied and respected among
and Equal Rights in Intercultural, Feminist, all suppliers. He is also in charge of:
and Integrative Pedagogics), 3rd ed­ition, Wies- ___ all contacts of Switcher Inc. with govern-
baden 2006; Handbuch Gender und Erziehung­ ments, the media, and NGOs, such as Max
swissenschaft, (Gender and Educational Science Havelaar for Fair Trade and Helvetas for
Manual), Bad Heilbronn 2004 (together with organic cotton
Edith Glaser and Dorle Klika); Vielfalt durch gute ___ the introduction of the CSR strategy for
Ordnung im Anfangsunterricht, (Diversity Switcher
Through Good Order in Initial Schooling), Opla- ___ the elaboration and introduction of control
den 1999. Her current research topics cover the tools for social compatibility with all suppliers
heterogeneity in education; pedagogic diagnostics of the manufacturing chain, from the cotton
for heterogeneous student groups in initial farmer to the end user
instruction; the right to edu­cation; and human ___ participating in the administration of the
rights education. Social inter­action in initial Switcher Foundation
schooling; iversity education in the elementary ___ the creation and management of the
and primary areas; and qualita­tive research respect-inside tracing trademark
methods in educational science. (
Realizing the Rights of the Child 296

commissions, participated in studies, and sup­- of Parliament from 1979, and was elected Federal
ported integrative educational approaches in Councilor in 1987. As such, he was in charge
various communities. She was also involved in of the Federal Department for Transport, Com-
teachers’ training. She was elected municipal munications and Energy from 1988 to 1995,
counsellor in Zug for twelve years. In this capac- then of the Federal Department of Defense,
ity she was a member of various commissions Civil Protection and Sports from 1995 to 2000.
such as the audit and the education commis- In 1993 and in 2000 he was President of the
sions. From 1994 to 1998 she acted as Vice Pres- Swiss Confederation.
ident and President of the municipal council.
In 1994, Elsbeth Müller became Deputy Exe­-
cu­tive Director of UNICEF Switzerland and Prof. Dr. Bernd Overwien, Technical University
was put in charge of the Communication of Berlin, is head of the TU sec-
Department. For approximately ten years she tion Global Education and
has been heading UNICEF Switzerland. Every Interna­tional Cooperation. He is
year, UNICEF Switzerland generates between ­working in didactics of citizen-
30 and 35 million Swiss francs for UNICEF ship educa­tion within the frame
projects worldwide. of refer­ence of teacher train-
ing. Initially, he was an electri-
cian and became a trainer of electricians. On the
Adolf Ogi was appointed in February 2001 to the “working adult” educational track he made
task of assisting the United Na- his Abitur (high-school diploma). After studying
tions Secretary-General in his to be a teacher of polytechniques and social
efforts to reach out to the world sciences, also obtaining a master’s degree in edu­
of sports in order to promote cational science, he worked as a scientific as-
understanding and support for sistant. His doctoral degree dealt with the acqui­
the work and ideals of the sition of skills in the small business sector of
United Nations. His mandate as Managua/Nicaragua, where he cooperated for
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on many years in the promotion of projects of soli-
Sport for Development and Peace is oriented not darity and development cooperation. Further
only towards the world of sports, sports indus- international cooperation projects made him vis-
tries and governments, but also towards United it Argentina, Ethiopia, and other countries in
Nations funds, programs and specialized agen- Africa and Latin America. In his thesis for quali­
cies. On the initiative of Mr. Ogi, the United Na- fication as university lecturer he worked on
tions proclaimed 2005 the International Year the aspects of informal learning. Later, he con­
of Sport and Physical Education in order to tin­ued this work in the context of a number of
encourage governments, the world of sports, and projects, and then also in cooperation with Cana­
other partners to use the power of sports to dian colleagues. At present, Bernd Overwien
promote education, health, development and continues to work on current educational ­topics,
peace. Adolf Ogi was Director of the Swiss Skiing in particular on Global Education, also in the
Federation from 1971 to 1981. He also took an context of human-rights-relevant perspectives
active part in the “Fédération Internationale de and on matters of informal learning in various
Ski” from 1971 to 1983. In 1981, he became a learning environments. Further­more, he is inter-
director and board member of Intersport Swit- ested in matters of inter­nationalizing research
zerland Holding AG. Mr Ogi was a member and teaching. He is an honorary member of the
Authors 297

“Round Table” of the German UN-decade Edu­ of a large number of publications on human
ca­tion for Sustainable Development and the rights and children’s rights.
head of the working group Informal Learning,
confiden­tial lecturer of the Hans-Böckler-Foun- Alfhild Petrén is deputy Secretary General of Swe­
dation, member of the advisory board of the dish Save the Children (Rädda
Landesstelle für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Barnen). Previously she served
in Berlin and active as a board member of as Head of International Pro-
as­sociations in the social and anti-racist area. gramme and Head of Policy of the same organization. She
has been UNICEF Regional
Advisor of Child Rights in South
Marta Santos Pais took up her post as Director Asia and was responsible for the drafting of
of the UNICEF Innocenti Re- the Swedish Government policy document
search Centre in July 2001. “De­mocracy and Human Rights in International
From 1997 until then she was Development Co-operation.“ Earlier she was
the Director of UNICEF’s Head of the Swedish International Development
Division of Evaluation, Policy Co-operation Office in Bangladesh and served
and Planning. With thirty years for many years as Legal Advisor at the Swedish
of experience in human rights Agency for International Development Co-
law, she was a member of the UN Drafting Group operation (SIDA).
of the 1989 ­Convention on the Rights of the
Child and, more recently, its two Optional Proto-
cols. She participated in the development of Since February 2003 Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro has been
a number of other i­ nternational human rights the Independent Expert of
standards, including The Decla­ration on the the UN Secretary-General for
Right and Responsibility of Individ­uals, Groups the study on violence against
and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect children. He published the
Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fun- conclusions of this study as
damental Freedoms; The Declara­tion on the the World Report on Violence
Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Eth- against Children in November
nic, Religious and Linguistic Minor­ities; Protocol 2006 and now he follows up the recommend­
aiming at the abolition of the death penalty; ations of the report worldwide. Pinheiro is a
Declaration on the Protection of All Persons professor of political science (retired), ­University
from Enforced Disappearances; Statute of of São Paulo, USP and the Cogut Visiting Pro­
the International Criminal Court. Prior to join­ fessor of international relations at the Center
ing UNICEF, Marta Santos Pais was Rappor­- for Latin American Studies, CLAS, Watson
teur of the United Nations Committee on the Institute for International Studies, Brown Uni-
Rights of the Child and a Special Adviser to versity, USA. He is also a research associate at
the Machel Study on the Impact of Armed Con- the Center for the Study of Violence, USP, which
flict on Children. In Portugal, she was Senior he also founded and of which he was director
Legal A­ dviser for human rights in the Com­ from 1987 to 2002. Since 2000 he has also been
parative Law ­Office and member of the Portu­- the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation
guese Commission for the Promotion of of human rights in Myanmar. He is a Commis-
Human Rights and Equality. She is the author sioner of the Inter-American Commission

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