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Title: Children's rights in school : the perception of children in Nicaragua
Author: Shier, Harry McCall
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 0454
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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For the many thousands of children in poor countries who drop out of school and so lose out on the life-chances that education might offer them, the notion of a ‘right to education’ has little meaning. Poverty and child labour are contributing factors, but for many children lack of respect for their rights in education is also a major problem. While current ‘whole-school approaches’ to children’s rights seem promising, failure to address underlying problems reduces their effectiveness. This thesis explores how children and adolescents in Nicaragua’s coffee sector perceive their human rights in school, providing insights that can contribute to the development of effective human-rights- based approaches to schooling, particularly in poor countries where the right to go to school must itself be claimed and defended. To understand how children themselves perceive their rights in school and the issues that concern them, the adult researcher worked in partnership with a team of child researchers in Nicaragua. The use of a distinctive methodology known as ‘Transformative Research by Children and Adolescents’ generated additional knowledge regarding the development of productive and ethical partnerships between child and adult researchers. The child researchers were facilitated in developing and carrying out a research project using qualitative interviews to address the above issues, including producing and publishing their own report; while the adult researcher gathered background information from parents, teachers and other adult informants. With the young researchers’ approval, their original data was subjected to a more thorough thematic analysis, which was compared with their own analysis. Four main themes emerged: (1) Developing positive human relations is fundamental for a rights-respecting school; (2) Students see some forms of behaviour management as rights violations, for example depriving them of playtime as punishment; (3) Lack of attention to the complex relationship(s) between rights and responsibilities has led to confusion and misunderstandings; (4) The child’s right to be heard was not an important issue for the children in this research, which raises questions for adult researchers interested in this topic. The main implications of the study are: highlighting the need for a rights-based approach to human relations in schools, particularly for dealing with behaviour issues; identifying the need for a more coherent and consensual pedagogy around children’s rights and responsibilities; and helping adult and child researchers develop more effective and productive partnerships.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available