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Celebrating the rights of children

20 November 2019

Schools across the Island will join world-wide celebrations today to mark World Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of a historic global commitment to promote and protect children’s rights.

From events celebrating young people’s talents to setting up groups for children to have their say on topics that matter to them, activities in Island schools will complement events around the world – all on the same day that the Government launches a campaign to encourage all Islanders to put children first.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, is an international agreement that was adopted by world leaders 30 years ago. It is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history and forms the basis of Unicef’s work.

To celebrate the anniversary, Unicef has encouraged schools to choose one of its ‘Thirty ways to celebrate children’s rights at 30’ activities, which includes holding assemblies to build knowledge of children’s rights and writing articles or producing films to explore how schools’ values and aims link to the UNCRC.

The Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, said: “Putting children first is the Government’s top priority; children must be at the heart of everything we do. I am delighted that all our schools are celebrating World Children’s Day in this special year in which the UNCRC marks its 30th birthday.”

Children at Grouville School, which has achieved Gold status as a Rights Respecting School, will wear blue – the colour ascribed to the UNCRC – just as landmark buildings around the world will light up blue to show support for child rights. 

Grouville head teacher Nichola Turner said: “We are hosting a pop-up festival where Rights Respecting Ambassadors will run different activities linked to Unicef’s OutRight campaign, which empowers children and young people to realise their own rights, and the younger children will also be taking part in rights-based activities in their classrooms.

“We will also launch our new Key Stage 2 pupil voice groups. The purpose of these groups is to include every child in Key Stage 2 in a pupil voice group that focuses on an aspect of school improvement and promotes positive change in our school. These groups will continue for the rest of the year.”

St Peter’s School, who are celebrating achieving Bronze Rights Respecting School status, are holding an open-door session after school for parents to go along to celebrate their children’s learning. Head teacher Sam Dixon said: “We are planning to have a table displaying information about Rights Respecting School Awards. We will begin our journey to Silver next week.”

Grands Vaux School will mark World Children’s Day with a Friendship Day, when children from Nursery to Year 6 are taking part in a carousel of activities across the whole school. Head teacher Maria McCool said: “The activities focus on the Rights of the Child and link to celebrating 30 years of the UNCRC. Activities include: stop-frame animation, a scavenger hunt, group games, personalised art, design and technology, as well as taking part in the World’s Largest Lesson, which teaches global goals for children’s rights.”

Jersey College for Girls students are taking part in a variety of activities to promote student talent and raise awareness of international issues. Principal Carl Howarth said: “We are holding a Rights Respecting Week in typical JCG style with a whole college assembly, an international food festival raising money for Ghana and an eco-fashion clothing exchange. The UNCRC and the idea of ‘putting children first’ will be covered in lessons and we have our Sixth Form Spectacular event which celebrates our students’ talents. The Head Girl team are visiting lessons to create a video exploring ‘Why Put Children First’.”

Trinity School head teacher Katy McMahon said: “As a Silver Rights Respecting School, this an important event on Trinity’s calendar. We are celebrating from Nursery to Year 6. We are looking at our global community and making comparisons with our own lives. Children in Key Stage 2 are using the book If the World was a Village to raise awareness of global issues.”

St Martin’s School head teacher Jenny Posner said: “We are holding an assembly and art competition created and organised by the Year 5 class to celebrate children’s rights.”

The flurry of activities in Jersey and across the globe take place on the same day that the Government launches a campaign to encourage everyone in Jersey to support the Pledge to Put Children First. The Government of Jersey is also launching a public consultation today to look at how States Members and other public authorities could incorporate children’s rights as part of their functions. 

The UNCRC has 54 articles that cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. Over the past 30 years, the Convention has helped transform children’s lives, from almost halving the proportion of undernourished children since 1990 to reducing the number of deaths of children under five by more than 50 per cent since 1989. ​

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