Promoting Child Participation in the Aileu District
In an effort to educate children in the Aileu district of Timor-Leste about their rights and encourage their participation within their communities, Plan has established a children’s club which provides a space for children to discuss current events and the issues that affect their lives.
The club currently has 25 members from different schools and religions. Both girls and boys are encouraged to participate and the group also includes children with disabilities.
"The child club is representative of children, and we will convey their thoughts and goals to the wider community so that everyone is aware that we have a right to be heard,” says Fidelia, the club's coordinator.
Before establishing the club, Plan’s Child Rights Program held a discussion with parents, teachers, local community leaders, members of civil society, and the local youth to understand their perspectives on the child club, analyze its advantages and potential challenges, identify the children who would be the most likely to participate, and determine the support that would be needed from parents, the community, and local authorities.
“Plan wants to give an opportunity to children to be a part of their communities and convey what they feel, see, and hear. Many times, we see that children’s issues are spoken about by adults instead of the children themselves,” said Fatima Soares, the Senior Child Rights Manager for Plan Timor-Leste. All of the club members received 3 days of training before the club was officially established. During the training, members learned about child participation, child protection, and child rights. The training educated members about their rights, how they should be protected, and provided examples of opportunities that would enable them to increase their participation in their district.
The club was officially established on November 27, 2013 and will be officially launched in January of 2014. Plan hopes to launch children’s clubs in all of the districts where Plan Timor-Leste works.