As exemplified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, children are vulnerable, and most susceptible to deprivation and marginalization. At the same time, children are agentic, entitled to improved well-being of themselves and the overall society. Hence, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), their rights comprise both protection and participation.
The UNCRC was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and has been ratified by all the member states except the United States. As an international agreement, the convention requires states to be fully committed to the realization of children’s economic, political, and cultural rights based on the principles of non-discrimination, best interests of the child, inherent right to life, survival and development, and the right to have her or his views respected.
Despite the improvements made in areas such as care, health, education, and juvenile justice, children’s rights are yet to be realized across the globe. Japan too is not an exception in this regard, characterized by obstacles to the realization of children’s rights, including poverty, bullying, and discrimination based on gender, ability, race, and nationality. Thus, children’s rights constitute a global and local issue that warrants an interdisciplinary approach.
This thematic group aims to explore the challenges and opportunities for advancing children’s rights both in the global and local contexts, with a particular focus on their educational rights. The scholarship considers that children’s educational rights include the right to education (e.g., equal access), right in education (e.g., non-discrimination, protection from violence and abuse, participation), and the right through education (e.g., endorsing respect for human rights and freedom). In this group, you will participate in expert lectures, read the relevant literature, discuss in groups, research a chosen topic, and present your findings and proposals for further improving children’s rights.