Child rights training for Irish primary school teachers
An outline of training resources and experiences from the pilot online training.
In the summer of 2021, UNICEF Ireland piloted an online training course for primary school teachers and early childhood educators, entitled ‘Embedding Child Rights in Your Teaching and Learning’. 49 primary school teachers, principals and early childhood educators completed the course this year.
The training is funded by the European Union's Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020) and contributes to one of Ireland’s key deliverables in the EU-funded project Children as Champions of Change: Ensuring Children's Rights and Meaningful Participation: building the capacity of educators to facilitate child rights education in their schools. In the context of COVID-19 restrictions it was decided an online summer course would be the best way reach educators.
The 20-hour course aims to support education professionals to embed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) into their teaching practice. The participants gain the appropriate knowledge, understanding and skills to create a rights-respecting environment in their classroom and wider school, in which children’s rights are learned, taught, practiced, respected, protected and promoted. The Irish Department of Education accredited the course, contributing to teachers’ in-service training requirements.
The training is hosted on Agora, a free portal offering tailored learning solutions to UNICEF’s staff, partners and supporters. The participants acquire knowledge by engaging in multiple online learning components, by completing tasks to test and reinforce this knowledge, and by applying their learning into their own practices via online and offline activities. Supported by an e-tutor, the participants take a self-directed learning journey through the five modules:
- The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child
- Rights Respecting Classroom
- Child Participation
- Global Citizenship
- Whole School Approach to Child Rights
Participants also complete a pre-course and final assessment to evaluate the impact of the course on their learning.
The feedback received from the participants was extremely positive. The quality of the course and e-tutor support was (strongly) perceived as good. Furthermore, an analysis of the course assessments revealed the participants deepened their understanding of child rights as they progressed through the learning activities.
A change in teaching behaviour was also reported: before the course, most participants declared they only integrated the CRC into their teaching a few times per year or per term, while after the course they anticipate using the CRC every week or even in everything that they do in the school.
All lessons learned and feedback received from the participants will be embedded in an updated version of the training course, which will be launched in summer 2022. UNICEF Ireland aims to reach even more enthusiastic educators during the next round of the course. More information can be accessed at the website: Schools - UNICEF Ireland.
Besides the summer training course, UNICEF Ireland intends to provide ongoing support to educators, and others, to embed child rights in their schools. This will be done through the Child Rights Schools programme which will be launched on World Children's Day: 20 November 2021.
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