Dutch Children Know Too Little About Their Rights

Children in the Netherlands are insufficiently informed about their own rights, according to 'Teaching and learning about child rights: A study of implementation in 26 countries,' a UNICEF report published on April 20.

Research by UNICEF shows that by teaching children about their rights, they develop values that form the cornerstone of democracy. The awareness of children about their own rights enables them to also learn about how to defend the rights of others. This is to the benefit of the atmosphere in the classroom because children learn to have more respect for their teachers and classmates. It also contributes to children being more concerned with society as a whole.

Rights of children in Dutch schools

From the report 'Teaching and learning about child rights: A study of implementation in 26 countries' it emerges that human rights courses or training sessions for teachers are being organized in none of the 26 investigated countries. Earlier this year, UNICEF the Netherlands carried out a research among 700 elementary and secondary school teachers. It appears that 76 percent of the teachers of elementary schools and 62 percent of teachers of secondary schools find education about the rights of children very important.

However, only a small percentage of teachers actually teach their pupils about those rights. This is due to a lack of time, but also because teachers are often unfamiliar with the best teaching methods when it comes to rights of children. UNICEF the Netherlands therefore advocates training teachers on how to teach about the rights of children.

Platform for Human Rights Education

UNICEF the Netherlands is part of the Platform for Human Rights Education. This coalition of civil society organizations, which includes the Netherlands Committee of Jurists for Human Rights and Amnesty International the Netherlands, is committed to making education about human and children’s rights an obligatory part of the school curriculum so that all children in the Netherlands will be taught about their rights and duties.

In this respect, 2015 is an important year: 'Education 2032' – a platform of experts in the field of education – is currently examining what the future curriculum of Dutch schools should look like. In this debate there has been little attention given to education on human and children's rights. UNICEF the Netherlands and the Platform for Human Rights Education seek to change this.