Monday 15 March 2010
Pupils at St John Bosco’s Primary School in Erskine are set to become UN ambassadors after their school achieved UNICEF’s ‘Rights Respecting Schools’ award in record time. Pupils and staff at St John Bosco’s started working toward the award in January 2009. They reached Level 1 just five months later and then powered on to Level 2, the advanced level, reaching their goal last month.
St John Bosco’s is one of just 15 schools in Scotland to hold the coveted award at the advanced level and pupils are now being trained to act as Rights Respecting Schools assessors. The award teaches children and young people about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). They also learn to respect other people’s rights.
Head teacher, Josephine MacKay, said, “Bruce Wilkinson, the UNICEF representative who promotes the award, suggested we should go for the advanced level as we were so far ahead.
“We were assessed for the advanced level on Friday 19 February 2010. The assessors were very impressed by the children’s knowledge of the convention and how they managed to share their knowledge with the local and global community.
“We linked up with a school in Ghana where our pupils were shocked to hear about how children in one particular school were being treated. They decided to send copies of the Convention to the school to make the children there aware of the rights that they should be receiving.”
Bruce Wilkinson, UNICEF’s Scottish Rights Respecting Schools Co-ordinator said, “This award works on the understanding that for children to want to achieve they have to feel included, that they belong and that they matter. Learning that you have certain rights simply because you are a child is a great starting point for building self–esteem.
“From here, bridges can be built to the vulnerable and abused. Children can begin to make connections with the needs and rights of other children. And this brings them into contact with the idea of interdependence and the need for cooperation.
“It leads them to see themselves as global citizens. Knowing that they have a right to participate, to have a voice in the decisions that affect them sparks their interest and opens the way to exploring the skills, language and concepts needed to exercise this right and the responsibilities that go with it.”
Tim Huntingford, independent chair of Renfrewshire’s child protection committee, said, “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is an important part of the legislation that protects children. Knowing the articles of the Convention gives children a clear understanding of how things should be and the motivation to act when something is wrong, whether it is here in Renfrewshire or half way across the world.”