Students initiate forum on child rights in Gyumri, Armenia

Thirty-five students from different schools in the region, many of them members of active student groups, were involved in panel discussions on basic rights, which they had previously identified and studied.

For every one of us it is very important to know our rights, no matter if you are a child or an adult. “For every one of us it is very important to know our rights, no matter if you are a child or an adult. My friends and I are eager to learn more about what rights we have, just as we know our responsibilities”, said 16-year-old Susanna Gasparyan, who studies in the 10th grade in secondary school #11 of Gyumri.

Three guest specialists from the Human Rights Protection Foundation after Sakharov (a famous human rights activist) facilitated the forum. First they sought to gauge the level of the students’ knowledge of human rights in general and child rights in particular.

A game called “Island of Rights” followed, where participants were divided into teams and had to solve situational problems such as, ’the first day of regular school for a child with special needs’, ‘lack of proper sanitary conditions in schools’, ‘children involved in farming work, etc., through the “application” of relevant rights.

They (students) criticise child abuse cases such as severely hitting children as a way of upbringing and suggest that those cases should be prevented through awareness raising campaigns. “It is amazing that students are eager to learn about human rights and particularly child rights. They criticise child abuse cases such as severely hitting children as a way of upbringing and suggest that those cases should be prevented through awareness raising campaigns”, said Gayane Margaryan, one of the Human Rights Specialists.

The game was followed by another discussion, comparing these discussed rights with those included in the Armenian legislation, such as the right to health and education, free speech and religion, etc.

Young participants expressed their opinions on the programmes implemented by World Vision Armenia’s Gyumri ADP. “We recognise and appreciate what World Vision has implemented in our region so far: renovated schools, helped children from poor families, established child centres, and much, much more”, said Susanna.

The students also suggested programmes that they would like the ADP to implement in their communities in the future: reconstruction of schools and tree-planting, improving the teachers’ qualification, organising youth activities, assigning psychologists in schools and replenishing school laboratories with new equipment, etc.

World Vision’s ADP teams will use the valuable feedback and information from the students in the planning of its programmes for the coming five years.