The Challenging Heights School has been a hive of action over the past two months. New words can be heard from children across the playground; “Child rights,” “Child Trafficking,” “UN Charters,” “Debt slave,” “Democracy,” “Child soldiers,” “Voting registers,” “Campaigning teams,” “Child sex trade,” “Ballot boxes,” “Voting registration…”
The reason? No – the United Nations has not been transplanted from New York to the Challenging Heights School, Ghana. Rather a group of Challenging Heights students have been busy implementing the Worlds’ Children’s Prize. The group of students, known as peer educators, have been charged with engaging their peers in all aspects of this child rights and democracy awareness program.
This has been exciting for Challenging Heights staff to see. As with all our programs we strive for a child centred approach. The World’s Children’s Prize is set up in such a way that children direct every step of the program, including reviewing child rights articles, learning about narratives of child rights abuse and organizing the electoral registration. While some see giving children such agency a risk, the benefits, in terms of child engagement and ownership are immense. Of course, this needs to be balanced with sensitive adult facilitation, especially when dealing with such frightening issues.
Increasingly, the children can be seen adopting a twofold mantra to owning child rights. The first being that such ownership is important to ensure that their rights, as well as those of their peers are upheld. The second being the awareness that they are the next generation of adults and as such need to continue to carry the responsibility of ensuring the rights of the child.
A video and more information about the World’s Children’s prize can be found here: