Issue(s): Community and Social Justice
Author: Tatiana Bazlova, Ivan Zolotukhin Sponsoring organization: NGO Organization(s): Public Health and Social Development foundation Focus-Media
Contact: Oxana Barkalova firstname.lastname@example.org
Scope of Good Practice
The goal of the campaign was to promote children’s rights and the right to education for children living in and suffering from the consequences of conflict. The wars in Chechnya and its neighboring republics have been catastrophic for children’s education and rights protection in these regions. Many children have not had a regular education and are partially or even totally illiterate; they don’t know how to read, write or count. This problem is even larger in the mountainous and isolated parts of the north Caucasus.
The Problem Addressed by the Campaign
Awareness of children's rights, ways to protect them and the documents and institutions regulating these rights was very low in the north Caucasus. This resulted in violations of children's rights due to lack of awareness and differences in culture.
To evaluate the scope of the “Every Child Has Rights” campaign and its impact on senior school students in the Chechen Republic, a survey of student knowledge, attitude and behavior in the field of children's rights was carried out before and after the campaign.
The survey found that students are not provided information about their rights, and their awareness of specific rights is very low. None of the respondents said that they could or would refer to relevant instances of rights violations. The students do not even suspect that some of their rights are being violated. They are also not willing to protect those rights: only a small percentage of respondents talk about the issue with their parents, and only some parents are ready to protect the rights of their child.
Most parents do not give violations of rights their deserved attention, chalking them up to the difficulties of adolescence. They often side with teachers to avoid conflict, preferring "to endure, not to get involved." Teachers often argue that the students’ awareness of their rights can only do them harm. The willingness and ability of parents and teachers to protect the rights of students in general are low. Most parents think it is "useless," and teachers either violate the law themselves or do not intervene in conflicts between other teachers and students.
Certain aspects of the national "mentality" -- absolute respect for elders and the decisive role of men in family and society -- complicate the situation because many people (especially children and women) do not see how they can influence the decision-making process to protect their rights. This needed to be considered when the organization developed a communication strategy for raising awareness.
The methods (if any) used in schools to present rights to students are ineffective. The information provided to students through lectures and classes is quickly forgotten. Parents are not provided with any information on the issue. Most schoolchildren, parents and teachers recommend using novel ways to provide information other than traditional classroom lectures. Students said that videos, cartoons, simple examples followed by illustrations, sketches staged by the students, comics, interviews and special booklets would be effective ways to communicate the information.
The campaign strategy focused on providing students and parents with necessary information about children’s rights, which could impact attitudes and actions surrounding the protection of those rights.
The campaign provided information about The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and its key provisions to teenagers and their parents and educators in the north Caucasus from February to May 2011, with the help of regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A video, flipbook, and leaflet were all issued as part of the campaign.
A 2D animation video was developed and produced especially for the campaign. The video told the story of a family living in Caucasus – a young boy, his sister, mom, grandpa and a stranger. The video was designed to be played on television and at lessons for school students.
A flipbook was created as a way to convey important information in a fun package, which allowed the organization to communicate with adolescents without boring them. On one side of the book there was a boy dancing lezginka (folk dance), which evokes feelings of pride and tradition among adolescents. On the other, there was information about children's rights.
A leaflet was distributed in educational institutions and organizations. The leaflet provided general information about the Convention and gave information about how to protect the rights of children. It also provided information about the organizations and services in charge of protecting children's rights.
The materials were mostly distributed at the events and through educational institutions.
Almost 99 percent (98.7) of respondents were aware of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, compared to 76 percent before the campaign. Importantly, 67 percent believed that the document referred to all children (before the campaign, only 24.2 percent did), and 88 percent of those who were familiar with the campaign materials demonstrated knowledge of specific human rights provisions.
According to the baseline survey, only 32.5 percent of respondents knew that students could create organizations to protect their rights; after the campaign, that number increased to 63 percent, and among those familiar with the campaign, 78 percent were aware of the ability to create these groups.
The attitude of the target group toward their rights protection also changed. The results of the survey showed that school students were more willing to do something if their rights were violated. Thus, among the students who saw the campaign, the number of those believing that he/she could openly express his/her opinion to teachers and school administrators increased by 24 percent, and the number of those who thought that students could hold rallies and meetings to protect their rights increased by 30 percent.
The percentage of respondents who expressed their specific views on school life to their teacher was 10 percent higher after the campaign, and among those who saw the campaign, it increased by 22 percent. Almost the same increase occured for students who felt that a teacher or their school’s administration considered their opinion.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The target group’s awareness of children's rights and the documents and institutions regulating those rights both increased significantly, as did their ability to protect those rights.