Citizenship - Children should be seen and not hurt

18th October 2013 at 01:00
Glasgow students craft child rights convention on Africa trip

Students from Glasgow secondary schools have been on a life-changing trip to discuss children's rights with their peers in Africa.

The 13 young people from across the city spent a fortnight with students of Blantyre Secondary School in Malawi, taking part in joint projects that also improved their leadership skills and awareness of global issues.

Together, the two groups discussed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and then created their own list of rights that they felt were crucial to children everywhere.

These included the right to a nutritious diet and clean water, and also the right to free education beyond school.

Being protected from harm, hard physical work and being lied to also made it on to the list, as did children deserving to "believe what they choose" and to access information.

One of the participants, Jenna Delaney, 17, from All Saints Secondary, said the Malawians had seemed surprised to learn that they had any rights of their own without earning them.

"They thought we would have them and they would not. I was not fully aware what my rights were under the UN convention, but I was aware I had some," Jenna said.

The young people found they had more in common with their Malawian counterparts than they thought. "We did have a lot of similarities. The boys had Xboxes at home and liked football. They were not that different," she added.

Blair Davidson, 17, from Bannerman High, said the experience had been amazing and had changed the way he viewed his life and education. "I have always enjoyed school, but I now appreciate it much more," he said.

The trip was part of the new Malawi Young Leaders of Learning project, an extension of the Malawi Leaders of Learning scheme (bit.lyMalawiLeaders), which sends teachers from Glasgow to work with their Malawian colleagues. The aim is to improve education in both countries.

The Malawian and the Glaswegian Young Leaders of Learning spent months preparing for the visit, with the Scottish teenagers raising more than pound;20,000 to fund the project. During their stay, both groups wrote daily blog entries about the experience. Preparations for next year have already started, with a new group of participants just announced.

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