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Beyond conventions: a psycho-educational perspective on children's rights to participation

By Leonor Castanho Lombo Da Cunha Rêgo

Abstract

This thesis addresses the concept of `children's right to participation'. In an effort of conceptualisation, it starts by providing a definition of four views through which this right might be considered: inalienable; statutory; granted; exercised.\ud Several levels at which these views may operate are also examined. These include macro-, meso- and micro-levels. Not withstanding the importance of macro- and meso-levels, a case is made for the appropriateness of microlevels as loci for both the research and the exercise of participation rights. This is a view stemming from the psycho-educational perspective in which this thesis is inscribed. \ud The importance of going beyond Conventions and concentrating research efforts in that the exercise of participation becomes a reality for children in their everyday lives is highlighted. It was deemed that undertaking a case study in a primary school would be helpful in that effort. Two research questions were examined through such design:\ud Question 1: How can the `exercised right to participation' in the primary school be defined?\ud Question 2: What are the factors that influence such participation?\ud In order to explore the first question, a set of indicators regarding granted and exercised participation was conceived, and it was applied in Santa Maria primary school (Portugal). This encompassed the school as a whole, the different classrooms and individual children. The results led to the conclusion that Santa Maria school, as a whole, did not appear to constitute a participation-oriented ethos. However, some elements indicated the existence of important discrepancies among the different classrooms, namely in what concerned the participation experiences of the children that attended them. \ud With regards to the second research question, several hypotheses were defined as to the factors that might influence the exercise of participation. These included: the children's age, the children's personal characteristics as well as the teachers' attitudes. The latter seemed to prevail as a determining factor, which entails considerable implications for future research undertakings as well as potential pragmatic interventions

Topics: LB
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2583

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