Child Participation Case Study

UNICEF’s Child Rights Schools (CRS) programme developmet of materials with children

How UNICEF involved children in the development of new Child Rights Education (CRS) programme support materials for primary schools

Background Information

  1. The project on which you involved children in decision-making

UNICEF’s Child Rights Schools (CRS) programme is a ‘whole school approach’ to Child Rights Education (CRE), which embeds respect for rights throughout the school on an everyday basis.

  1. The topic on which we wanted their views

In 2021, UNICEF involved primary school children in the development of new CRS programme support materials for schools.

  1. The reason we wanted their views

UNICEF’s CRE team wanted to understand the children’s views on what format would work best and what content should be included in the support materials. This was to ensure that the materials produced would be engaging and appealing to schools participating in the programme.

  1. The decision-makers that facilitated and listened to their views

UNICEF’s CRS Coordinator facilitated two consultation workshops to listen to and act on the children’s views.

  1. The age profile of the children or young people

The children who participated were in senior primary classes (aged 8 – 12 years), from two different schools.

  1. Other relevant information about the children

One of the schools was based in an urban socially disadvantaged area, and most of the participating children were from ethnic minority backgrounds. The second school was based in a rural area.

How we gave space, voice, audience and influence to young people’s views


How we ensured a safe and inclusive space to hear the views of young people

Things we considered What we did
The space or setting where we got their views (this may include online settings)
  • The workshops took place in the children’s schools. One in a classroom with the whole class, the other in the school hall with a mixed group of children representing multiple classes. The children worked in groups to discuss and provide feedback on their views.
How you identified the children and young people to be involved
  • The schools involved were approached to get involved in this project because the principal of each had previously participated in a CRE course run by UNICEF. Both principals expressed their interest in child participation and commitment to involving children in decision-making in their schools.
How you involved those who were directly affected by the topic
  • The children involved in the workshops were selected by the principals as they too had previously participated in child rights initiatives in their schools.
How early in the process they were involved in decision-making
  • The children’s views were sought at the beginning of the decision-making process. UNICEF was clear that it wanted to create support materials, but the format and content were only decided after the children’s views had been heard.
How the process was inclusive and accessible
  • To ensure that the workshop was inclusive and accessible for all, the children were divided into small groups with an adult and note taker in each, to facilitate and record the discussion, providing extra support to the children that needed it.


How we gave young people a voice in decisions

Things we considered What we did
How we informed young people about the topics on which we wanted their views
  • The CRS Coordinator prepared and showed a child-friendly PowerPoint presentation, giving background to UNICEF, the CRS programme and the purpose of the workshop.
How we made sure they knew their views would be taken seriously
  • The children were reminded about Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and informed that UNICEF wanted to hear their views and take them seriously, to inform the development of programme support materials for schools.
How we informed them about level of influence they could have on decision-making
  • It was made clear to the groups that all views would be considered, taken seriously, and acted upon where possible. The reach of the programme was explained to the children, to make them aware of how influential their views could be in helping children to realise their rights in schools nationwide.  However, they were also reminded that other children and adults were also involved in the development of the material and any decisions made would have to consider all suggestions, as well as other factors. Therefore, not everything they suggest would be possible. This was emphasised to avoid disappointment or a feeling of not being listened to when they saw the final products.
The methods we used to get their views
  • Discussion was used to get the children’s views. The CRS coordinator explained the purpose of the support materials i.e., to inform schools about child rights and UNICEF’s CRS programme. The children were also shown examples of videos, leaflets and imagery from other programmes to initiate and guide the discussion.
How we made sure they could identify topics they wanted to discuss
  • The children were asked open-ended questions that they discussed in their groups. Children were encouraged to feedback to the wider group and the facilitator followed their lines of discussion by responding to and encouraging them to elaborate on topics/themes/suggestions that they made.
Please describe the topics and issues they raised


How we made sure that there was an audience (decision-makers) for young people’s views

Things we considered What we did
How we developed a report or record of the young people’s view
  • The CRS Coordinator, who led the workshop, wrote down the children’s responses as they spoke. The supporting adults also recorded the responses of the children in their small groups. Some children also recorded the responses to their discussions in small groups.
How we checked back with them that their views were accurately represented
How we involved the decision-makers who are responsible for influencing change (other than yourself)
  • The insights were shared with other members of UNICEF’s CRE team to make a final decision on what format the resources would take.
At what point we involved decision makers other than yourself in the process
  • After the children’s responses were collectively analysed, I presented the most workable ideas to the CRE team.
How we and other decision-makers showed our commitment to listening to, and acting on young people’s views
  • A decision was made to develop a magazine for children to be distributed to schools. This idea came from the children.
How we supported young people to play a role in communicating their own views to decision-makers
  • The discussion that I facilitated with them supported them to communicate their views on the resources that UNICEF should develop.


How young people were given updates at key points in the development of the plan

Things we considered What we did
How we informed young people about the topics on which we wanted their views
  • The CRS Coordinator reached out to three different illustrators, with three different styles, and explained the project to them. The illustrators provided sketches and examples of their work that were shown to the children. The children voted for their preferred illustrator and explained their reasons for their choice.
How their views were acted on by the appropriate decision-makers (what happened to their views)
  • The adults in the school and UNICEF preferred a different illustrator but the decision was made to go with the children’s preferred candidate.
Whether we continually checked back with children and young people about the ways you used their views with decision-makers (if possible or appropriate)
  • I checked back with the children on their preferred choice of illustrator.
How they were given full and age-appropriate feedback explaining how their views were used (or not) and the reasons for decisions taken
  • When the magazine was designed and printed, hard copies were sent to the children. It was explained to them that their views influenced the format (magazine), style (illustrator) and content (information about the programme in child-friendly language).
How we enabled them to evaluate the process throughout
What young people said in the evaluation


The format of the final programme materials and the style of the content was different to what was initially planned. The physical copy magazine for children would likely have been an online booklet for teachers, with a very different graphic style, had children’s views not been considered.

The learning for our organisation

  1. The key learning for our organisation and the two schools from the process and outcome of involving children in this project

The key learning from this consultation was that what adults think children like and what children actually like often differ! The adults involved all voted for the illustrator that they thought the children would like, but most of the children voted for a different illustrator style. The teachers in the consultation were very surprised to see the children overwhelmingly vote for a different illustrator than them.

  1. Looking back, how did the final outcome compare with our initial assumptions and those of other decision-makers involved in the process?

The initial idea for programme support material for schools was a booklet for teachers, only available online. The consultation with children identified that they wanted materials too and that they would like hard copies. Therefore, the support materials produced turned out to be quite different as a result of listening to children’s views. Had the children’s views not been gathered on the favoured illustrator, the programme material style would also be very different. It was a stark reminder that adults do not always know what children like!

  1. What worked well?

Having supporting adults work with small groups worked very well in this process. It ensured that all participating children were included and that all children’s views could be heard, even if they did not want to speak out in front of the larger group.

  1. If we were doing it again, is there anything we would do differently?

The consultation process took a lot of time, that had not originally been planned. Therefore, there was not enough time to share drafts with the children for feedback before the printing deadline. If this process was to be followed again, more lead-in time would be given to share a record of their responses. This would give the children a chance to see if their views were accurately represented and provide feedback on the work.

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