Pacific children key to championing human rights in the region

 Pacific education officials and curriculum development officers from Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), and Tuvalu met in Fiji this week (7 to 10 August) to progress plans to integrate human rights and responsibilities into primary and secondary school curricula under the banner of “social citizenship education”.

The social citizenship education programme 2018-2021 is funded by the EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), supported by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and UN Women (EUR 0.6m).

On behalf of the delegations from Kiribati, RMI and Tuvalu, Mr Neaki Letia, Director of Education for the Government of Tuvalu, said “as we navigate the various implementation challenges ahead we must stay strong in our belief that children and young people can bring about positive social change. This workshop provided an opportunity for countries to share with and learn from each other as we plan towards a future where children and young people are agents of change.”

Plans to action the integration of social citizenship education into the school curriculum arose following a regional consultation held in April 2017 where education officials from 10 Pacific countries met to map a way forward for their countries to strengthen social citizenship through their national education curriculum. This week’s follow up workshop was attended by senior education officials and representatives from three Pacific countries who will now return to their respective countries and drive the action plans they have developed.

In welcoming the participants to the workshop, Ms Ingrid Swinnen, representative of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific said, “Ministries of Education in the Pacific are critical counterparts and drivers of this process because they best understand what suits their country context and education systems to deliver social citizenship education”.

Support to the social citizenship education programme will be provided by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT), in collaboration with SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) and the Social Development Programme (SDP).

“At SPC RRRT, we believe that our children and young people are ready to have conversations on social inclusion, human rights, gender equality and ending violence, within the classroom setting. The social citizenship component of the Pacific Partnership programme will help them to do this in an informed way and SPC RRRT is excited to be part of this initiative”, said SPC RRRT Director, Miles Young.

The Pacific Partnership programme brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners, to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors of violence. The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between SPC RRRT, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).

The social citizenship education programme is Outcome One of the Pacific Partnership programme, and aims to contribute towards shaping children and youth’s notions and awareness of human rights and responsibilities, gender equality, social inclusion and ending violence against women and girls in their communities.