Author: Chigunta, F.
In December 2002, a baseline study on the formation of child rights clubs (CRCs) was commissioned by the Zambia Civic Education Association in order to ascertain the feasibility and sustainability of forming CRCs in schools. The major objectives of the study was to collect baseline information on child rights issues from Central, Copperbelt and Lusaka provinces of Zambia and assess the feasibility and sustainability of the project entitled “Child Rights Clubs Formation and Dissemination of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the State Party Report (SPR)”.
Since the inception of the Project in 2003 to date, 300 child rights clubs have been established in 300 primary, basic, high and community schools in six of Zambia’s nine provinces. The Project covers 138 community schools, and 128 high schools and basic schools. These comprise 237 schools - 207 co-education schools, 17 boys-only schools and 13 girls-only schools. An estimated 10,970 children are participating in the CRCs, comprising 6,240 boys and 4,730 girls.
However, there has been no external evaluation of the CRC Project to assess the effects of CRCs on children’s knowledge and awareness of their rights. It is also not known how much children know about other issues of concern. It is in this context that this evaluation was conducted.
The purpose of the evaluation is to serve as the first external evaluation of the CRC project and as a contribution to strategic decision-taking with regard to UNICEF's and Save the Children Sweden's support for the Child Rights Clubs. The objectives of the evaluation are to assess to what extent the objectives of the Child Rights Club Project have been met, specifically in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability.
Primary data was the main source of data for the evaluation. The data collection techniques employed a combination of the following:
Findings and Conclusions:
Management of the Clubs:
In every school visited, there was a facilitator (usually a civics teacher) whose role was to facilitate the activities of the clubs. At a higher level were Provincial Coordinators who were selected by ZCEA personnel from among the club facilitators. However, the manner in which club facilitators and coordinators are chosen by ZCEA raises some questions. There are also some questions regarding the extent to which some facilitators in at least half (17) of the schools visited can discharge their duties effectively due to lack of orientation workshops.
Awareness of the Rights and Responsibilities of the Child:
On a general level, it can be concluded that the Child Rights Club Project has had a positive impact on the awareness and knowledge of the rights of the child in the schools where the clubs operate (pp. 12-26). The evaluation shows that the level of awareness and knowledge of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are higher among CRC members (95% and 61%, respectively) than non-CRC members (44% and 31%, respectively). Similarly, the level of awareness and knowledge of the rights of the child are higher among CRC members (97% and 68%, respectively) than non-CRC members (64% and 46%, respectively). However, in schools where the CRCs are highly active, the levels of awareness and knowledge of the UNCRC were higher than among those where CRC activity was low. But the children seemed to know more about the rights of the child than their responsibilities. This complaint came out in discussions with Head Teachers, ordinary teachers and members of the local community.
There was a high level of participation of children in CRC activities. In nearly all cases, the facilitator and the club executive consulted the general membership on matters affecting the operations of the club. At meetings, the children discussed the issues and put forward their suggestions to the club facilitator and executive. However, in some schools, especially community schools, there was heavy involvement of facilitators in club activities to the extent that sometimes they were seen to make decisions on behalf of the CRC members. The children used the knowledge gained to participate in community activities, including child-to-child and child-to-parent counselling.
The CRC Coordinators and facilitators generally saw the following as the key challenges facing the clubs:
i. Lack of adequate learning materials
ii. Lack of adequate financial resources
iii. Lack of transport
iv. Lack of motivation for club facilitators
v. Lack of orientation training for facilitators, and
vi. High turn-over of facilitators.
ZCEA’s Management of the Clubs:
Since the inception of the CRC Project, ZCEA has facilitated the formation of 300 clubs in community schools and formal schools. This means that ZCEA has attained the objective of establishing 300 CRCs by 2006. But, as this evaluation suggests, the performance of these clubs in uneven.
Despite growing interest in the Child Rights Clubs from schools across the country, it is unlikely that ZCEA will facilitate the formation of new clubs in the schools. This is due to a number of difficulties that ZCEA is facing. The main difficulties relate to:
- Lack of adequate staff to handle CRC issues. There is presently only one person at ZCEA dealing with over 240 CRCs in schools
- Lack of ability to conduct orientation workshops for facilitators
- Inability to replace materials in schools, and
- Lack of ability to supply clubs with adequate materials.
The clubs have increased in number, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and other duties have become a challenge. In the case of training, it was a one way off event. This means that there were no follow-up orientation workshops for new facilitators.
Funding for the Clubs:
The CRC Project is presently supported by UNICEF and Save the Children Sweden. Although the funding appears adequate for the formation of clubs, the ZCEA officials interviewed for this evaluation study expressed some concern over the re-imbursement mode used by UNICEF.
Outcomes of the CRC Project
Relevance: The CRC Project is highly recommended by both children and teachers in a growing number of schools. The pupils are grateful that they have become aware and knowledgeable about the rights and the responsibilities of the child, while Head teachers are grateful that the clubs are promoting a culture of discipline and responsibility in schools. Although the teachers in some schools were initially suspicious of the Project, they have come to appreciate the benefits of promoting the rights and the responsibilities of the child. It is, therefore, not surprising that the membership of these clubs is growing in more than half of the schools visited. Significantly, it is important to note that the CRC Project is in line with the Zambian Government objective of promoting the protection of the rights of children. The CRC Project is also in line with various international instruments on the protection of the rights of the child such as CEDAW. Additionally, the CRC Project is in line with the key objectives of the 2000 Common Country Assessment (CCA) agreed by UN agencies operating in Zambia and the World Bank.
Effectiveness: From the evidence gathered by this evaluation, it is apparent that balancing quantity (number of clubs, children, schools, and so on) with quality (learning, awareness raising, and so on) has not been easy for ZCEA and the CRCs. This is largely due to the overwhelming response to join the club among pupils. The result is a gap between available materials and the growing number of children belonging to the clubs. The nature and intensity of this gap varies from club to club. Despite the limited material available, many pupils were able to learn about the rights and responsibilities of a child.
Efficiency: The cost of running a club is not excessive. Whatever amount is involved, it is obvious that the unit cost of running an CRC is low. In at least 11 clubs, the facilitators indicated that running the club properly would cost a minimum of K1.6 million per year. This is based on the average budget figures presented by these clubs.
Impact: The CRC Project has had a significant impact on the promotion of the rights of a child in the schools where the clubs operate. This is reflected in the following:
1. Awareness of the Rights of a Child among Pupils
The evaluation shows the awareness and knowledge of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and awareness and knowledge of the responsibilities of children are higher among CRC members than non-CRC members. However, in schools where the CRCs are highly active, the levels of awareness and knowledge were higher than those where CRC activity was low.
2. Participation of Pupils in Club Activities
The evaluation shows that there was a high level of participation of children in CRC activities. CRC members were involved in all club activities. In nearly all cases, the facilitator and the club executive consulted the general membership on most matters affecting the operations of the club. At meetings, the children brainstormed the issues and put forward their suggestions to the club facilitator and executive.
3. Impact of the CRCs on the School Environment
The evaluation shows that the activities of the CRCs are beginning to have a significant positive impact on the school environment. This is especially evident in the improving relationship between teachers and pupils in schools where the CRCs are active. There has also been a significant improvement in gender relations among both pupils and teachers in these schools. However, the administration in some schools sees the CRCs as a threat or problem makers.
The impact of the promotion of the CRC project in the schools is appropriate and should be encouraged. This is evident in the outcry among many respondents for more widespread dissemination of information on the rights of a child among pupils. While there has been some mainstreaming of general human rights education in the school system in Zambia, the specific focus on the promotion of the rights of a child in the schools as an extra curricula activity has interested many pupils.
Sustainability: The sustainability of the CRCs in schools takes several forms: institutional, social, financial and ownership. The evidence from this evaluation suggests that in part the continued existence of the CRCs in the schools is related to the support that they receive from the school administration. Where the clubs have received support, as the case of Hauma Community School in Gwembe suggests, they have thrived with potential benefits to wider society. The Children’s Council at Hauma has given the children an opportunity to use their reasoning, insight and expertise to the construction of their own values, meanings, and strategies. However, there are some questions regarding the extent to which CRCs in schools can be transformed into Children’s Councils in the short-term.
It is, however, important to note that the social sustainability of the clubs within local communities is very important. In the Zambian context, social construction of childhood is based on what may be called ‘socio-centric’ societies. This is contrary to the ‘person’ or ‘ego-centric’ societies in North America and Northern Europe upon which the UNCRC is apparently based. The UNCRC is currently being promoted as a global standard, when in practice it is a normative framework developed within a specific context in accordance with a particular set of ideas. The emphasis on individuality and individual rights in the UNCRC may hold little relevance to more ‘socio-centric’ societies, such as Zambia. The challenge, therefore, is to make the campaign to promote the rights of children acceptable to local communities. This will require localization of the UNCRC to recognize local perceptions of varying responsibilities of children. Any campaign that seeks to promote the empowerment of children through the trumpeting of rights risks irrelevance at best and beneficiary defiance at worst.
In terms of financial sustainability, it is evident that at present the clubs cannot sustain their own operations. Most clubs are not engaged in any income generating activities (IGAs) for a variety of reasons. Even among the few that are engaged in IGAs, the returns are marginal that they cannot sustain the operations of the clubs. The effort should, however, be seen as a positive one. In some schools, facilitators are forced to use their own money to finance the activities of the clubs. However, where the clubs have received strong support from the school administration, they have thrived as the case of Njase Girls High School in Choma suggests.
This appears to suggest that institutionalization of the CRCs within the structures of the MoE, and therefore their ownership by schools, offers better long-term prospects for the sustainability of the clubs. We believe that improved understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the child among Head Teachers and school staff will be crucial in the institutionalization of the CRCs within MoE structures.
Management of the Child Right Clubs
1. Orientation workshops for facilitators should not be a one-off event
2. There is need to train several teachers in the rights and responsibilities of the child from each school where a CRC is formed or is to be formed
3. There is need to change the mode of selecting coordinators for CRCs as these should be elected by facilitators in each district
4. There is need to change the mode of selecting facilitators for CRCs as these should competitively selected from the pool of trained teachers
5. There is need for standard rules for facilitators on the depth of their involvement in facilitating club activities for community, basic and high schools
6. There is need for rules governing the use and ownership of the teaching manuals and other materials belonging to CRCs
7. Club executives need training in leadership skills
8. Need to create stability and strengthen institutional memory in the CRCs by encouraging pupils in lower grades to hold executive positions, and
9. There is need for a Code of Conduct for CRCs designed with the active participation of children.
Awareness of the Rights and Responsibilities of the Child
10. There is need to put equal emphasis on the teaching of rights and responsibilities of the child to both CRC and non-CRC members
11. There is need to improve the understanding of what a ‘right’ and ‘responsibility’ to children
12. There is need to improve the understanding of the contents of the rights and responsibilities of the child among children
13. There is need for information on how children can assess the services offered by the Victims Support Unit, and
14. There is need to strengthen community structures to effectively address problems of child abuse at community level.
Support Materials, Learning and Club Activities
15. There is need for more t-shirts and badges for CRCs as these are an important source of identity and pride in schools
16. There is need to support CRCs with adequate learning materials
17. The learning materials for younger children in community schools should be further simplified
18. There is need for ZCEA to supplement the Green Booklets on the rights of the child with other types of reading materials that focus more on empowering the children with life skills
19. Although facilitators have training manuals, there is need for more systematic and standardized delivery of the training material
20. There is need to find ways of making rural based schools benefit from the ZCEA budget line for club activities
21. There is need to increase the role of CRCs in community outreach work
22. Children need communication and peer – to - peer counseling skills (and general counseling skills) to enhance their confidence and participation in school and community activities
23. Children need advocacy and lobbying skills, and
24. ZCEA should assist CRCs to solicit for support from sources other than ZCEA.
Networking with other CRCs and Non-CRCs
25. ZCEA should improve communication with CRCs in rural schools
26. The CRCs should seriously exploit opportunities for networking both within and without the school, and
27. There is need for a strong coordinating structure for CRCs within districts.
28. There is need to train club facilitators and club executives in fund raising and resource mobilization, and
29. There is need to train facilitators and children in budgeting and financial management.
Support from the School Administration
30. There is need to develop clear guidelines for club operations in relation to the school administration
31. Clubs should work closely with school administrations when carrying out their activities
32. ZCEA should learn from how other organizations such as the Zambia Red Cross Society and the Anti-Corruption Commission support clubs in schools.
33. ZCEA should help CRCs to become pro-active in soliciting for support from other organizations, and
34. Care should be taken to ensure that IGAs undertaken by CRCs do not interfere with other school activities.
The School Environment
35. There is need to encourage positive interactions between the school administration and CRCs, and
36. ZCEA should organise Child Rights Sensitisation Workshops for teachers in schools where CRCs operate.
Involvement of the Ministry of Education
37. ZCEA should take full advantage of the good will in the MoE to promote the institutionalization of CRCs within schools, and
38. ZCEA should actively involve the MoE in the introduction of CRCs in schools.
ZCEA Management of the CRC Project
39. There is need for the ZCEA Project Manager to keep rapport with CRC facilitators
40. There is need for UNICEF, SCS and ZCEA to clearly define the roles for the ZCEA Project Manager and the facilitators
41. There is need to establish clear communication channels for CRC members in schools
42. There is need for equal access to the ZCEA budget line for club activities in rural and urban areas
43. The training for facilitators should be a continuous process
44. More teachers from a single school should be trained in the facilitation of CRCs in order to create a pool of potential facilitators, and
45. There is need for UNICEF to reconsider its re-imbursement mode of funding the Child Rights Project activities given the problems that the implementing agency – ZCEA – are facing in raining up front funds.
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Save the Children Sweden, Zambia Civic Education Association