The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights establishes that: ‘Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realising other human rights.’ As such, great importance is placed on education targets and education in human rights, though this importance is not adequately reflected in the German federal government’s State Report.
Children must be able to participate in education institutions and experience the quality of children’s rights here themselves. This includes having their dignity respected by professionals, whose welfare obligation should allow for self-determined learning processes. Progress has been made in relation to comprehensively implementing children’s rights at formal education institutions. While children’s rights are established in the school legislation of all federal states at comprehensive schools, the states’ cultural sovereignty means this is done in varying ways, and often more implicitly rather than explicitly. Several states (such as North-Rhine Westphalia, Hesse and Lower Saxony) have been implementing model projects (such as ‘children’s rights schools’) for some time now, and these are to be further developed.
Overall, children’s rights are increasingly being addressed as a classroom topic , but school structures and approaches, and common school life, still fail to adequately uphold the mission of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the 2018 Children’s Report, some 84 percent of the 1,000 children and adolescents (aged 10–17) surveyed know little to nothing about children’s rights. Here, the government needs to be held accountable more intensively.
The field of teaching and education revolves around the relationships and the respect shown to the young people. However, everyday educational interactions also involve degradation, discouragement and psychological abuse: On average 5 percent of all educational interactions are classified as very hurtful, while a further 20 percent are classified as mildly hurtful.
Often, child participation solely occurs on designated committees, and usually tends to focus more on peripheral school issues rather than the core issue of teaching structures. The participation rights of children and adolescents in education and all areas of life affecting them directly are an independent right for which specific criteria exist (e.g. transparent, voluntary, child-friendly, inclusive and accountable).
- The National Coalition Germany recommends that the UN Committee call on the German federal government to
- 116. Systematically take into account Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child both at day-care centres and schools, and introduce mandatory, age-appropriate processes and structures guaranteeing children’s and adolescents’ self-determination and co-determination at educational institutions at any age. At schools, this must also include form and content of teaching and learning.