“Article 15: supporting children's rights and capacities to self organize”
This is a new long-term research and development partnership between WorldVision, Save the Children Norway, UNICEF and Childwatch International. It is coordinated by the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
In recent years the International child-serving NGOs have offered increasing technical and financial support for the creation of clubs or “child-led groups” because they have been found to be an excellent means of working to fulfill children’s rights in an authentic participatory manner. Because they are built from an understanding of children’s rights to participate, many of these groups are more deeply participatory than children’s groups have hitherto been. However, there has been sparse documentation of these groups either within the academic world or in professional publications. Related to this, there is not much guidance material for children or adult facilitators on ways to establish, govern, manage and sustain children’s own organizations and there has been little critical self-reflection by these new types of organizations. This is surprising given the burgeoning literature on methods for engaging children in participatory research and action projects. The emphasis seems to have been almost entirely upon supporting children to understand their individual situations and to take actions outside of their group, typically in their community, rather than to think of how to act most effectively within the group. There are of course some important exceptions to this such as the politically conscious child labor organizations in a number of countries and the even greater number of violence prevention or peace groups that often include a focus on issues of within-group conflict.
The Article 15 Project seeks to fill this gap in the need for resources to assist children’s groups to become more deeply participatory. The project will do this most fundamentally by working in a participatory fashion with children and adults from a wide range of children’s organizations to learn about different models of organization and which structures and processes work well. The knowledge from this on-going participatory process will be shared through the creation of open-source resource materials on a multi-lingual website and through the continuous sharing and extension of knowledge between the children’s groups themselves. While these are very practical goals we also recognize that there are many challenging conceptual issues to be solved regarding how children can effectively organize in a participatory democratic manner and the roles of adults in this process. Relevant theory and research from a variety of related fields will be synthesized by the project research team alongside, and in dialog with, the on-going process of self-reflective participatory research by the children organizations.