It is important to support the rights of all children and young people to participate and have equality of access. Therefore, it is essential to outline the benefits of valuing and promoting cultural diversity in work with children and young people.
In recent years, attitudes towards children’s rights have shifted. Professionals are no longer focused on just a child’s basic welfare, but identifying and supporting their rights is important too. This means identifying them as human beings with a set of recognisable rights instead of being passive objects needing care.
These views have changed as a result of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that governments adopted in 1989. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) state that children have the right to be safe and grow, participate and to fulfil their potential. It applies equally to every child regardless of where they come from or who they are. A child’s needs may be different from others but they have the same rights as other children.
In relation to learning all children have the right to a broad and balanced curriculum. In addition to this, children have the right to equal access to the curriculum irrespective of their background, race, culture, gender, additional need, or disability.
Children should also be able to participate in the education process. Participation means giving children a say in their education, listening to them and involving them as much as possible in school life. This is involving them in the design and delivery and evaluation of the different services.
Supporting children in this way to exercise their rights, by giving them the opportunity to participate in the education process also enables them to achieve more, improve their self-esteem and contribute to a better school environment where learning is a shared responsibility.
An important part of preparing for adult life is to identify that we live in a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-faith society. Therefore, education should ensure that children understand and value social and cultural diversity. Cultural diversity identifies that there are cultural differences that exist around the world which influences people’s opinions, habits, lifestyles, goals and ideas.
By teaching cultural diversity, children are able to be more accepting of others and because their minds are young it is easier to encourage them to become more accepting. When someone has already formed rigid opinions it is harder to change them.
If cultural diversity is not taught at a young age, it may lead to prejudice which is