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Children’s rights in teacher education in Sweden
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies (from 2013). (UBB)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0507-9622
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Education. Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Politics and History. Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Centre for the Studies of Social Sciences Didactics. Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies (from 2013).
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

General description (up to 600 words)

 

In this paper children’s rights in teacher education is highlighted. The aim is to examine content and aims concerning children’s rights in core education courses, in Swedish teacher education. In 2020, Sweden will follow Norway’s and Finland’s example in incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNCRC, into Swedish legislation. Arguments have been put forth that the principles of the best interests of the child (article 3) and children’s rights to participate in decisions (article 12) will be reinforced. In a commission of inquiry, set up by the Government (SOU 2016:19), it is argued that the new legislation requires capacity building in terms of general development of competence among professionals at all levels. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva submitted comments and recommendations in 2015 to Sweden's fifth periodic report. In these comments, the Committee expressed concern that "relevant professionals do not have sufficient training in assessing the best interests of the child" (p. 4). Since teachers are a key group of professionals working with children, there seems to be a need for studies of teacher education in Sweden, with regards to children’s rights in general and UNCRC in particular.

 

In Sweden, teacher training is regulated on a national level by The Higher Education Ordinance, (Högskoleförordningens examens­ordning för lärarutbildningarna,1993:100) where general aims and content for teacher education is stipulated. All teacher education programs include “core education subjects” for 60 credits, equivalent to one year of full-time studies. Core education subjects comprise of seven sub-themes linked to future professional practice, where the one of particular interest in this study is “history of the school system, its organization, and conditions as well as the core values of early years education, including fundamental democratic values and human rights” (www.uhr.se).

 

Previous research has explored different aspects of children’s rights in school. Several studies in the Nordic countries have been carried out in relation to children’s participatory rights in school (Andersson, 2017; Elvstrand, 2009; Rönnlund, 2011). The dual assignment for teachers to educate children about their rights and to observe and respect children’s rights in education has been discussed (Hägglund, Quennerstedt, and Thelander, 2013; Quennerstedt, 2015). Brantefors and Quennerstedt (2016) examined education research and found a disparity of motives for children’s human rights education, relating to children's age. Further, the researchers concluded that human rights education often becomes a vague question of human relations and interactions. With an aim to develop educational theoretical concepts for analyses of human rights education, Brantefors and Thelander (2017) identified four teaching and learning traditions of rights with emphasis on participation, empowerment, awareness of rights and finally right respecting. There are also several international studies that have discussed human rights education. In a survey, Bajaj (2017) explored the global field of human rights education, dealing with the theoretical and conceptual foundations as well as with practice. In a literature review of human rights education initiatives globally, Boutros (2018) identified deficient teacher training, inadequate literature and a low level of commitment by school administrations, to be major obstacles for effective implementation of human rights. Osler and Starkey (2017) articulate the historical background of human rights education and argue for education for democratic citizenship underpinned by the values of human rights.

 

 

Methods/methodology (up to 400 words) 

The data in this study consist of syllabi from teacher education programs in Sweden. Teacher education in Sweden is accessible at 24 universities and colleges. In the study, syllabi of ten universities and colleges are examined with regards to aims and content concerning children’s rights. The study covers core education courses in four different teacher education programs: Early years education programme, Primary education programme, grade F-3 and grade 4-6, Secondary education programme (förskollärarprogrammet, grundlärarprogrammet F-3, 4-6 and 7-9). There is an overarching syllabus for each teacher programme, and a specific syllabus for each core education course. Altogether, the empirical material adds up to about 250 local syllabi. The syllabi have been review in search for a number of keywords such as e.g. “children's rights”, “UN convention of the rights of the child”, “human rights”. The analysis of the syllabus was done by content analysis, which pointed towards full sentences and context.

 

 

Expected outcomes/results (up to 300 words) 

 

Preliminary results indicate that content regarding children’s rights in teacher education concerns values and policies rather than knowledge. Local syllabuses at colleges and universities show similarities to The Higher Education Ordinance, (1993:100), often in exact wording. Few examples of efforts to specify or concretize national aim have been identified. Sometimes content regarding children’s rights tends to become more general and vague in local syllabuses, than in the national ordinance. The study may contribute with new knowledge to people working with course development in teacher education. Furthermore, there is a reason to believe that questions will be raised on a national level about implementation, competence, and accountability in relation to the new legislation, why the subject of our research may very well be of general interest in Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Children’s rights, teacher education, syllabus, content
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Educational Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-74814OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-74814DiVA, id: diva2:1352879
Conference
ECER/EERA, European Educational Research Association
Available from: 2019-09-20 Created: 2019-09-20 Last updated: 2019-09-20

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Thelander, Nina

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