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Abstract

The research aims to answer the question: How can the children’s right to participate within the Comprehensive School Health Programme (CSHP) in Kenya become a reality? I initiated the Participatory Action Research (PAR) in cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), which financed my research. I defined its objective as investigating the social problem of the neglect of the right of children to participate in the CSHP. The UNCRC defines this right in Article 12.1.<br />

The PAR was conducted for a period of 4½ months, from September 2013 to January 2014. In the sample were six separate groups of children (aged 10-13 years) from three primary schools in the Ndeiya area of Kiambu County in Kenya. Two research facilitators oversaw every one of the 17 research sessions with each children’s group. They hailed from the same Kikuyu ethnic community as the children and were nearly fluent in their mother tongue. One key person assisted the research facilitators in each school. I guided the research facilitators in the background and managed the PAR. They applied Participatory Learning and Action methods combined with Focus Group Interviews in each research session. They also conducted two Focus Group Discussions with the children’s parents. The data analysis started during the PAR with the children and research facilitators in Kenya. I did the final data analysis in a non-participatory way when I was back in Germany.<br />

My results propose an approach on how to realise children’s right to participate within the CSHP in Kenya. I call for a global generalisation of this approach in school health promotion programmes. This approach builds on my results of the children’s views on their right to participation and on my PAR field experience with the children in Kenya. Based on these results and drawing on current theoretical frameworks for children’s participation, such as Hart (2008) and Percy-Smith (2014), I outlined the realisation of children’s right to participation according to Action Research principles. In their views, the children also accentuated actions that support the realisation of their right, such as, helping or teaching others. A puzzle model summarises my final approach. It contributes to the practice and to the theory of realising children’s participation. It concurs with those theories that advocate for the realisation of children’s participation as a dialogical process and actions, such as children’s community contributions, and as a relational change between adults and children. Moreover, my approach complements existing frameworks by defining six components and clearly structured practices needed to realise this children’s right. It highlights a broad understanding of the UNCRC’s Article 12.1, which includes children expressing their views as well as undertaking activities, such as fetching water or teaching others. Important for my approach’s workability in Kenya is that this broad understanding of children’s right to participation is rooted in the prevailing practices of children’s participation in Kenya: adults educate their children, often while jointly carrying out daily tasks. <br /><br />

Hart, R., 2008. Stepping back from 'the ladder': Reflections on a model of participatory work with children. Chapter 2. In: A. Reid et al., eds. Participation and learning, perspectives on education and the environment, health and sustainability. New York: Springer, pp. 19–31

Percy-Smith, B., 2014. Reclaiming children's participation as an empowering social process. Chapter 16. In: C. Burke and K. Jones, eds. Education, childhood and anarchism. Talking Colin Ward. New York: Routledge, pp. 210–220

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