Improving the world for children is inextricably linked to improving schools.
The Rights Respecting School program from UNICEF is a ‘whole-school’ approach to teaching children’s rights that incorporates respect for rights throughout the school on a daily basis.
Children are supported to become active participants in learning and in school decision-making. Schools and teachers are supported in recognizing children as rights holders and in realizing children’s rights throughout the school environment.
The journey involves children, teachers, educators, other staff members, and parents/carers working together to analyze how rights-aware their schools currently are and then collectively take steps to improve the situation.
Research has shown a significant impact in a variety of school contexts: higher student achievement, lower absenteeism, higher levels of well-being and engagement, and improved relationships between children and adults.
Inclusiveness, Respect, and Commitment
Byens Steinerskole – Waldorf International School Copenhagen became an official Rights Respecting School under UNICEF Denmark in 2021. This means that one of our tasks is to support children’s knowledge of their rights, including ensuring knowledge of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As a Rights Respecting School, we have an increased focus on safety and well-being, and we work actively every day to be a school where inclusiveness, respect, commitment, and a sense of responsibility prevail.
Experience and studies show that children who know their rights and understand them in practice thrive and treat each other with respect and dignity.
Through this work, we want to give children the opportunity to develop so that their self-esteem is strengthened and their understanding of their own abilities and opportunities is increased.
Students are consulted. They are heard and taken seriously. For example, do they think school is a safe place to be? Do they know what their options are if their parents divorce? Or if their mum or dad becomes seriously ill?
A UNICEF Rights Respecting School unites students, parents, teachers, and other staff in a community based on all the good values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The school’s values are based on joy, well-being, openness, and trust. At the center of these values is our rights council.
The Rights Respecting Council
The school has a special Rights Respecting Council consisting of children and adults who continuously work to improve conditions for all children at the school.
The council includes students from 3rd to 9th grade from both the international and Danish departments, two rights coordinators (one from the international and one from the Danish department), an employee from the Leisure Centre, a board representative, and a member of the school’s management.
Week of Rights
Every year in week 41, the school has a joint theme week where we focus on children’s rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The ” Week of Rights” is a fixed part of the program as a rights school. The students work together on specific rights, both in their own classes, but also across the different year groups. The idea is to select a few rights from the Convention on the Rights of the Child each year and work in depth with them from different perspectives. In this way, over a school life, many of the rights you should be aware of are covered.
It’s always a great pleasure to see all of the school’s students working hard and exploring rights in many different ways during this very special week. All classes must end up with a class charter that shows how the class has worked with and will work with the selected rights in the future.
When you visit the school, find the rights wall and learn more about all the great initiatives and activities that have been facilitated under the rights school project.