Children from the sixth grade in “Toma Kardjiev”, “Vasil Aprilov” and the School of Arts marked the end of the academic year with cheerful celebrations.
Over the course of the school year, EQ has organized interactive sessions in each school dedicated to child rights and responsibilities and related subjects like tolerance, communication, managing anger and aggression and other topics chosen by the children.
The clubs are based on the principle of child participation which is essential for the philosophy of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 31). Participation encourages the children to be involved in the processes and to take responsibility. It helps them to create and implement projects and initiatives through which they can express their opinion and they can influence decisions that impact on their lives.
With the support of EQ facilitators, the children organized the celebrations, demonstrating to their peers, teachers and headmasters the products of their work during the year – messages in the form of an improvised booklet showing what interests and fascinates them, how they imagine life in school, at home and in the street. Class teachers received copies of the book as did the children themselves – they were the authors and designers after all.
The students also presented their club activities and the charitable events in which they took an active part. Leading games, they got their classmates involved in the main topics related to child rights and responsibilities and demonstrated what they have learned throughout the year.
Through working with the children, EQ facilitators came to understand the extent of the systematic violation of child rights by adults both at school and at home. Abuse of child rights is camouflaged – “It is for your own good”; “This is how things are in life and you should take notice”; “I am the grown-up and you should listen to me and respect me”; “These are the rules…period” etc.
Very often the rules established by the adults fail to take account of those things that make each child a unique individual. The rules are rarely explained but, nevertheless, they are imposed.
Rules that violate rights are intuitively resisted by children and, more especially teenagers provoking rebellion and reactions that are easily defined as aggression or even violence. Very often aggression aimed at their peers is caused by anger and frustration emanating from the violation of their rights by significant adults. They have no effective defense against this.
Together, the participants in the clubs took their message to the adults and made a modest contribution to building a world in which young people are respected.