Learning about child rights through drawing and theater

Roma and Egyptian girls and boys learned about child rights and how to exercise them

Milica Bogdanović
Dječak koji ilustruje ljudska prava
UNICEF Montenegro
28 January 2021

PODGORICA, 28 JANUARY 2020. –  Compared to the general population, Roma and Egyptian girls and boys more often drop out of school, enter child marriages, or have their health adversely affected by teen pregnancies.

To raise awareness of child rights and the protection tools available, the Centre for Roma Initiatives (CRI), supported by UNICEF and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, has developed a programme for Roma and Egyptian children aimed at educating them about the possible ways to address violations.

The workshops delivered by the CRI were attended by 116 girls and 114 boys, mostly from Roma communities in Niksic, Berane and Podgorica, who learned about the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

One group of children from Niksic, including Mirsad (14), Saranda (14) and Amela (11), used a forum theatre approach to highlight the problems affecting the Roma and Egyptian communities, sending a message to their peers about the significance of the right to education.

“The play begins on a sad note, because my parents are not letting me go to school, but would like me to get married instead. In the end we’re all happy thanks to the school pedagogue who talked to my parents and I carried on with school"

Amela (11), the lead actor in the play
Amela from Niksic
UNICEF Montenegro
Amela used a forum theatre approach to highlight the problems affecting the Roma and Egyptian communities.

Given the COVID-19 situation, Mirsad, Saranda and Amela did not get to perform in front of a live audience; but rather, the participants of the workshops saw a recorded performance of the play.

“The children loved it. They applauded. They asked if that had really happened, who was involved. The actors managed to convince the audience it had actually happened,” Fana Delija, CRI Executive Director, observed.

Besides the forum theatre, another group of children from Niksic, including Edison (15) and Anita (13), presented children’s rights through works of art. The drawings, now on display at the CRI offices in Niksic, depict various situations when the right to education, prohibition of child marriages or domestic violence or the right to healthcare are either upheld or breached.

Anita from Niksic
UNICEF Montenegro
Anita presented children’s rights through works of art.

“Life without human rights would be a sad one". 

Anita (13), one of the authors

The children reported that they had learned about the significance of exercising their rights, particularly the right to education.

“It is most important to complete school". 

Edison (15), one of the authors
Dječak koji ilustruje ljudska prava
UNICEF Montenegro
Edison presented children’s rights through works of art.

As an important segment of the child rights education, the boys and girls from Roma and Egyptian communities stressed that they had learned how to respond and who to turn to in case of any breaches.

Asked who they would approach first if their rights were at stake, they responded in unison: “The school!''

Fana Delija of the CRI added that, in such instances, children can also approach the CRI, relevant institutions, the Ombudsperson and the police.

“Human rights education and the empowerment of children and young people is an arduous process, but quite rewarding in terms of better protection and respect of child rights". 

Fana Delija, CRI Executive Director
Civil activist Fana Delija
UNICEF Montenegro
Fana Delija, CRI Executive Director

Nada Djurovic Martinovic, the Child Protection Officer at UNICEF, stressed the importance of intensive work, involving girls and boys from the Roma and Egyptian communities and teaching them about the options for exercising their rights to education and healthy life.

Nada Đurović-Martinović
UNICEF Crna Gora / Duško Miljanić / 2021
Nada Djurovic Martinovic, the Child Protection Officer at UNICEF

“It is vital they are aware of alternatives to child marriages, and how to access justice when their rights are violated".

Nada Djurovic Martinovic, the Child Protection Officer at UNICEF

The CRI has implemented this project within the framework of a comprehensive Equal Access to Justice for All Children initiative, implemented by Montenegro’s Ministry of Justice, with technical assistance provided by UNICEF and financially supported by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway with the aim of empowering vulnerable children to have equal access to justice and approach the institutions when their rights are violated or go unrecognized.