Education and Human Rights
The Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002
places a positive obligation on the OCO to promote awareness among members of the public, including children, of matters relating to children’s rights. In this regard, the 2002 Act makes explicit reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
In giving effect to this statutory responsibility, the OCO aims to build understanding of what children’s rights means; what rights children have; how children’s rights relate to children’s lives in Ireland; and of the various roles that different people, including children themselves, can play in giving children’s rights meaning to children themselves in the context of their daily lives.
The OCO’s work with children in this regard has two core strands.
- Since 2006, we have welcomed thousands of children and young people from across the country to our office in Dublin to participate in educational workshops. The OCO’s visits programme introduces children and young people to the OCO’s work and facilitates them to explore children’s rights and responsibilities through activities. These twice-weekly visits also provide a valuable opportunity for us to hear directly from children and young people about issues of concern to them and to engage with principals, teachers, special needs assistants, parents and youth workers who accompany visiting groups of children and young people to the OCO.
- Over several years, the OCO has also been developing educational materials to support teachers to explore issues relating to children’s rights in Ireland with children and young people in the context of curriculum teaching and learning at primary and post-primary level. Following the success of our Big Ballot (2007) and What do you say? (2010) materials, we have developed a third resource in this series; Small Places which will be available from September.
This autumn, the OCO piloted a new human rights education programme for postgraduate students, which we plan to build on in 2013. Next year we also plan to implement a dedicated initiative for parents, who we know to be the principal advocates for their children’s rights from our work to deal with complaints.