The project “Inclusive children’s councils leading to democratic exchange” (GOTALK) is realized within the framework of the CERV Programme. The Project is coordinated by the Karel de Grote University of Applied Sciences and Arts (KdG) and the centre of expertise for Pedagogical Support in Day Care and School in partnership with the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL), UNIMORE (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) represented by the Department of Education and Humanities, Fondazione E35, the AGBSO, Municipal Education of Antwerp.
The EU Strategy on the rights of the child has listed the facilitation of meaningful, safe and inclusive children’s participation rights in decision-making processes as one of its top priorities to be implemented or started by 2024.
The strategy is based amongst others on a European mapping study on political and democratic life, which showed that only 4 out of 27 countries legally require governments to include children or young people’s opinions in decision–making.
The mapping study points to children’s councils as the most prevalent permanent structure involving children. It does not, however, provide details on how children’s participation is ingrained in less formal contexts such as educational and leisure environments. Moreover, children’s councils tend to lack in diversity, and represent only part of the school’s population in terms of age, gender, special needs, cultural background and social class.
Approved in October 2022, the project GOTALK addresses specific needs of children and educational professionals. Its final aim is to improve the level of inclusiveness, sustainability and policy impact of children councils. GOTALK will use both existing and innovative mechanisms and strategies to establish children’s and youth councils on a micro level in school and out-of- school contexts.
1) To develop and test inclusive consultative methods with children in school and out-of school-care contexts considering two age groups (6-12 and 13-18) and paying specific attention to diversity in terms of gender, cultural background and social class;
2) To test the inclusive and innovative methods allowing to check the sustainability and transferability conditions of the approach to other contexts;
3) To prepare children and adults (e.g.; professionals working with and for children, parents, local policy makers) to engage in a co-creation exercise on the objectives, mechanism and potential policy impact of the children participation;
4) To design and test a governance model to address the three problems identified and addressed in specific objectives 1-3.