Children as stakeholders in education : does their voice matter?

02 May 2018

Children’s right to freely express their opinion in education is very rare, and it is critical for schools to realise it. Although at times they are consulted about their difficulties, children are seldom asked to participate in the development of programmes that affect their lives. The aim of this conceptual article is therefore twofold: (1) to explore the extent to which schools recognise children as rights holders and protect their right to freedom of expression in educational matters, and (2) to determine the implications of the previous findings in children’s right to freedom of expression in their education. Literature on children’s participation in education was reviewed. Legislations and policies on the right to freedom of expression were also analysed. The study revealed that regardless of their legitimate position in education and positive outcomes from engaging children as stakeholders in education, schools resist change. A significant finding of the study was that learners’ engagement in school affairs deepens democracy, and hence school improvement. Hart’s ‘Ladder of Participation’ on involvement of children in school matters is therefore recommended.