Our digital programme in Bangladesh has helped transform the way Rohingya children learn in the Kutupalong refugee camp and the slums in Cox’s Bazar. Digital education content is projected in each classroom, tackling language barriers and helping to bring learning alive.
As we approach our 30th year working for children’s rights, this year the UN has also marked 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This international treaty protects the rights of all children to be free from discrimination, violence and neglect. It has shaped our work from the start, and this year has been no exception.
Although the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has meant that many of their regular meetings, campaigns and activities have been paused, the 10 Children’s Parliaments in Patna have quickly adapted to become an instrumental part of helping their communities through the crisis.
Sahil lives in a persecuted Dalit community in Bihar State, India. Through the education and encouragement of his teacher at one of the Learning Centres we support here, he has not only realised his rights, but those of his wider community. Now he has become a teacher himself and is ‘paying it forward’ helping younger children to know their self worth and access vital services.
Through ten Children’s Parliaments, children are learning about their rights and responsibilities, developing leadership skills, learning about the political system and election process of their country and how to campaign about the issues that matter to them. Here are some of the highlights, from the Children's Parliaments over the past few months.
In the largest refugee camp in the world, Children on the Edge are pioneering digital learning to deliver meaningful education for our 7,500 students in the refugee camps. Beyond this, the children work together to create and share their own fun packed videos using a digital platform called ‘Moja Kids’.
Not only this, but the children here have been leading transformation since 2017. When we first started working here, we asked the children what needed to change. They took us on a tour of the area and told us about some of the problems they faced. We interviewed many of them, and they created a map of Wandago with sticks, leaves and stones to show us the places that were safe and the places where they felt afraid.
They told us about high levels of child exploitation, that there was little access to education and a lack of healthy jobs due to all the dangerous breweries that dominate the area. One of the main problems they described was how when they went to the well for water alone, many girls had been victims of rape and sexual assault.
In the last few years, the Child Protection Team in Wandago have been working to stop this. They have done regular spot checks at the well, many workshops on child protection and ensured that no-one walks there by themselves. Since this point there have been no attacks.
They have been working on wider issues too, supporting the opening of a new Early Childhood Development Centre, and starting a small loan scheme to create healthy livelihoods and make it possible for parents to send children to school.
The same children who raised their voices about these needs in Wandago are now part of the Child Rights Club, piloted in Loco, but now also active in Masese I and Wandago. They are trained about their rights and work hand in hand with the Child Protection Team.
Babra is the social worker for Children on the Edge Africa. She says,
Children in Wandago are now not only safer, but teaching other children about being safer, delivering regular workshops to hundreds of younger children, and talking to parents about how to clean up the area and make sure children can go to school.
They started the change, and they continue to lead, watch the video above and share the great news about the impact these children are having.
After their first Community clean up campaign in Loco, Uganda, the Child Rights Club here have been inspiring and training hundreds of other children around Jinja.
Two more clubs have been launched in the last year, one in Masese I and the latest in Wandago. Clubs are given regular workshops on rights, responsibilities, how to work hand-in-hand with local Child Protection Teams and how to prevent instances of child labour, exploitation and abuse. They then take their training out to a wider audience of children in their communities.
Here’s four examples of the clubs in action and the kind of difference they are starting to make.
Through both printed and digital child- led publications, Children on the Edge are working to ensure Rohingya refugee children have a voice.
“Nobody knows about us” has been a frequent remark coming from discussions with many of the 7,500 children we support in the Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.