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Childrenʼs Rights and Education

International Perspectives


Edited By Beth Blue Swadener, Laura Lundy, Janette Habashi and Natasha Blanchet-Cohen

This book compares ways in which children’s rights in, to, and through education, formal and informal, are viewed and implemented in a variety of social and political contexts, aiming to shed light on how policies and practices can improve equal access to high quality education in an environment which is respectful of children’s rights. Chapters focus on understanding the opportunities for and challenges of addressing children’s rights to participation and to inclusion. Authors draw from a variety of disciplines, including critical and cultural studies of childhood, and bring internationally comparative policy perspectives to share nuanced and contrasting examples of ways in which a rights-based approach to education might empower children and youth. The book deepens and complicates research on children’s education rights, and will contribute to courses in comparative education, childhood studies, education policy, and children’s rights.
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9 Pursuing Democracy Through Education Rights: Perspectives from South Africa

Design and Methods



Pursuing Democracy Through Education Rights

Perspectives from South Africa

Bekisizwe S. Ndimande & Beth Blue Swadener

This chapter discusses children’s rights issues as they relate to education and daily life in post-apartheid South Africa. We draw from two related studies conducted with township parents regarding the extent to which children’s rights have been understood and achieved in this new democracy, both in terms of equity of access to education and broader understandings of children’s rights—beyond education rights. Our work seeks to understand ways in which Black communities view education and other children’s rights. The first study was a collaborative qualitative study connecting a broader discussion of children’s rights, particularly as they are formulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990), and the Children’s Act of 2007, to the perspectives of Black parents (meaning indigenous in South Africa) and professionals. Drawing from these interviews, we analyze ways in which children’s rights and the Children’s Act are understood, contested, and interpreted. The second study utilized focus groups with Black parents in townships and concentrated on educational options, choice, and access for their children after apartheid education was repealed. The democratic Constitution of 1996 and the South African Schools Act (SASA) of 1996 both provided space for equity of access to education, especially to marginalized students who were denied quality education under apartheid. Both studies...

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