A Minor Field Study on Student Participation through Class and School Councils in Copperbelt Province, Zambia

University essay from Lunds universitet/Socialhögskolan

Abstract: The purpose of this Minor Field Study is to describe and analyse student participation through class and school councils as a way of increasing child rights at a school level and democracy at a national level. Class and school councils are new concepts in Zambia in the work towards the child’s right to participation as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child article 12. They were established in 2007 through an international training programme: The Child Rights, Classroom and School Management, initiated by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and in collaboration with Lund University. From a socio-cultural perspective, this study was conducted as a case study at one target high school in Copperbelt Province and based on several observations, four focus-groups interviews with students and three semi-structured interviews with a teacher and link-teachers. Childhood sociology is served as a theoretical framework in the analysis where childhood is seen as a social construction and children are viewed as active participants in the society, contributing to reproduction and societal changes. Even though most of the previous research revealed on the subject has shown poor outcomes, that the establishment of class and school councils is not enough to include students in real decision-making processes, the results from our study are mostly positive. Student participation as well as the relationship between students and teachers seems to have increased and the students, both in- and outside the school council, experience that they are listened to, that their voices are taken into consideration and that they are a part of decision-making processes at the school.

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