Ensuring Higher Degrees of Child Participation in All Spaces

Proposer:

CSO Platform For Reform – Child Cluster

Affiliations:

Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM)

Policy Code:

2e Child

Problem Statement / Issue:

1. Despite Malaysia’s ratification of UNCRC and relevant laws for child participation, children
continue to have their voices unheard, if not silenced.
2. The culture of perceiving children as “incapable” of understanding or knowing about
matters that concern them is the root-cause of the lack of empowerment for children to
participate in family, schools, community and child-related policy-making decisions.
3. 3/4 children primarily want quality education for every child (UNICEF Children4Change poll,
2017). Today, the decision of reopening schools is made without consulting or even hearing
the opinions of children themselves.
4. Child participation in Malaysia today is limited to the first three ladders of Hart’s ladder of
child participation – manipulation, decoration and tokenism. Children’s opinions are not
really included in policy-making decisions that concern them. Children spend at least 13
years in schools. The education system has failed in creating the spaces for children’s voices
to be heard.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Upholding UNCRC Articles 12-17 to amplify child participation in accessing information
and enabling them to participate in decision making processes affecting their rights and
wellbeing at all levels by including:
1. children in national policy-making decisions;
2. normalising children’s participation within their ecological systems;
3. empowering children as child rights advocates.

Proposal of Solution and Call to Action:

1. Laws and policies made should primarily be in the best interest of children, and its
implementation should reflect active child participation.
2. Grassroot initiatives need to be taken in order to shift the collective mindset on child
inclusivity. KRTs and RAs can create spaces for child participation to educate, accompany and
empower children to participate at their immediate community level.
3. National policies, laws and decisions concerning children must include their opinions in its
decision-making process. Children must be seen as stakeholders and have their opinions
taken into account prior to any decisions pertaining to them.
4. The degree of child participation must ascend from non-participation towards adult-initiated
shared decisions with children and child-initiated and directed participation within the next
five years.
5. Schools need to allow for inclusive and holistic participation for children in the freedom of
choice of art/science stream, in sports and other extracurricular activities. Classroom
learning should also be revamped in such a way that teachers act as guides instead of
instructors, so as to ensure an interactive nurturing space for child participation and growth.

Translation

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