Ms. Julie Ward, a newly elected Member of the Parliament from the Socialist and Democrats group (S&D) hosted an event on Early School Leaving within the framework of the European Parliament’s Working Group on the Quality of Childhood.
The discussion began with factual opening statements from Pr. Christopher Clouder based on the recent UNICEF report. The report’s specific findings concluded that violence is not an individual act, but rather a social one that is affected by economic measures and cultural norms.
Following that, Dr. Paul Downes of Saint Patrick’s College from Dublin City University managed to deliver his thorough presentation on the issue of school drop-outs among children. This integral representation was concretely based on research that advocates the need for an “inclusive system of the voices of the children”. Furthermore, according to this approach children’s’ lack of trust in adults causes a gap which resembles between both entities: families and teachers.
Subsequently, the idea of “unavoidable silence” calls for establishing an inclusive system of children’s voices; including the “socially-economically marginalized students” whose voices are labelled “contextual voices” for the sake of adequately describing the relative environment in which the child was brought up. Also, the idea of child public humiliation in front of their peers was compared to adult humiliation by managers, which definitely added a novel angle of perspective!
Children are evermore adversely affected when it comes to economic stringency, as it reflects on their mental health and well-being. As a result a number of proposals were introduced to help contain this issue; “teams to support marginalized families directly” to help empower families in distress was a suggestion that was then supported by a real life example from Britain’s MEP Ward. In addition, “a system blockage theory examines ways of overcoming system structures of exclusion” to call for more interaction from the children’s side. As for the parental role, it was not left out as one might think; rather it was highlighted at the end and given equal importance so as to have the parents involved in the policy making of school rules that will eventually build their children’s characters.
Finally, Antonio Mellado- WYAE Advocacy Director- supported the idea of an increased involvement of parents on school policies, because “education is not only about brains but also about the heart” and students will only put their hearts into their school if their parents commit themselves with the educational project.
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