After ten years of existence as a National Committee On Child and Youth Participation (NCCYP) and after eight years since the formulation of the National Framework on CYP, a research was proposed to document the ways by which children exercise their right to participation and the kinds of environment that facilitate meaningful and effective participation. The research was also expected to assess the extent to which the national framework on child participation has been useful to implementing agencies.
The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and the National Committee on Child and Youth Participation commissioned a research to review and analyze the promotion of child participation in the Philippines. This was undertaken through four case studies of selected child participation interventions of member agencies of the NCCYP. This study aimed to achieve the following objectives:
1. To document and analyze child participation practices demonstrated in programs and projects of the members of the NCCYP with an assessment of connecting and dividing factors in the following areas of concerns:
· Process of participation
· Quality of participation
· Effects of participation to the child’s other rights
· Readiness of the child-focused organizations in providing/facilitating opportunities for child participation (e.g. vision of the agency on child participation, child participation policy, training of staff, opportunities for child participation, etc.)
2. To determine the usefulness of the National Framework on Child Participation and to come up with policy recommendations as inputs to its possible revision.
CWC, NCCYP and the researcher selected four member-agencies of the Committee for the case studies based on target children sectors, geographic representation (one agency in Mindanao, one in the Visayas and one in Luzon) and on available resources for research. The agencies selected were ChildFund, ERDA and TATAG Inc. By default, the Children Basic Sector (CBS) of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) was selected because of its unique character. The Council for the Welfare of Children was considered as its agency being the government arm that provides technical assistance to the council representative
The respondents in each of the case studies were sampled such that a rationally appropriate balance was achieved in terms of the following representation of boys and girls, age bracket, as appropriate, geographic origin, children-adults and urban and rural setting.
The study was participative and analytical in both qualitative and quantitative aspects. It employed inter-active processes that engaged those who were actually involved in child participation initiatives and those who were affected by it. The study applied the principles of triangulation, appreciative inquiry with strong stakeholders’ participation. A national data validation was conducted with the NCCYP and the CWC
The key findings of the study in terms of impact and level of child and youth participation are as follows:
1. The participation of children and youth in various activities in their own community-based associations and in various undertakings initiated by their respective sponsor-agencies has been able to create affirmative and encouraging impact among children. These were clearly illustrated in terms of changes in personality, attitude and behavior, relationship with family, friends, peers, adults and with the community as a whole.
2. More specifically, CYP has been able to create changes in children’s level of awareness of their rights, expressive skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and desirable social behavior. The children’s responses demonstrated strong emphasis on development and enhancement of their social-orientation and social skills. CYP had a positive impact not only on children but also on their parents, teachers, community leaders and agency workers.
3. Because of these changes, the children said they were more in a position now to protect themselves from potential abuse or exploitation. The researcher still believes that child protection measures and policy should be built in the CYP programmes.
4. In various activities where children were engaged, children were able to play different roles at different levels of involvement. However, there was a general weakness in assessment and analysis of community issues, and in monitoring and evaluation.
5. Gender differentiation in terms of roles children played was not an issue. The participation of disadvantaged groups of children did not come out as a concern as the children themselves came from poor families and disadvantaged communities.
6. Child participation in NAPC-CBS, as it were, may be considered participation at the highest level because of the sectoral representative’s engagement in governance and policy formulation. In the process, however, the children were forced by circumstance to sacrifice some aspects of their childhood and the exercise of some of their rights as children. They were also exposed to adult-led and adult-managed condition that was seemingly opposed to the promotion of child-friendly environment.
The key findings related to programming for CYP are as follows:
1. All four agencies under study considered CYP an important concern of their programmes. However, the level and clarity of articulation of CYP in their VMG and structure varied. CYP was more strongly reflected in the goals of the agencies. None of the four agencies made direct reference to the CRC or child participation as a right. As a separate government entity, CWC has yet to formulate its own vision of child participation.
2. Only CWC and ChildFund have specifically assigned focal person on CYP. The focal person in CWC has very specific job description. There was no focal person in TATAG and ERDA. There was no specific budget for CYP in all the agencies.
3. The agency workers have incomplete understanding of the concept, principles and practice of CYP. They received very little training or no training at all on the promotion and fulfillment of CYP. There was no plan to conduct training on CYP for social workers who have been working with children. There was little resource training materials on CYP. Only Childfund had a training module specifically on CYP.
4. There was no discreet monitoring and evaluation system for CYP in all the case studies. Only ChildFund had some monitoring indicators relevant to CYP. But even these have no variable that will measure the quality, depth and level of child and youth participation.
5. There were a number of programmatic issues and concerns that the NCCYP and the implementing agencies needed to seriously look into such as the issue of institutionalizing CYP into the agency programme design, budget and structure, capacity building of field workers, absence of adequate orientation and training modules on CYP, integration of CYP in the monitoring and evaluation system, and sustainability and scaling up.
In terms of the National Framework on CYP, the key findings are as follows:
1. The National Framework on Child and Youth Participation is a good document and by itself, is adequate enough to guide any institution in developing an effective child participation project. It is also rich in programmatic principles that can guide practitioners in mainstreaming child and youth participation in existing programmes and services for children.
2. However, the Framework has very low familiarity and utility particularly among the four agencies in the study and among the members of the NCCYP and CWC because they seemed to have fallen short in popularizing its use. The circulation was also very limited.
3. Throughout the years since the production of the Framework, there has been several CYP interventions by various agencies in the country that needed to be interwoven into the framework for a broader range of possibilities in the promotion of participation right.
4. There were emerging rights-based issues that needed to be addressed in the framework such as equity, child-friendly work environment, child participation intervention appropriate for children, rationalized representation of children in national forums, results indicators, etc.
Some of the key recommendations for the four agencies are as follows:
1. Revisit and revise, if necessary, the VMG of the agencies to properly articulate the agency’s real concern for CYP. They should define their discreet strategies and mechanisms to ensure genuine CYP.
2. Identify a CYP focal person in the office with expertise on CYP and with very specific task of providing technical assistance to the implementation of CYP.
3. Develop a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for CYP with SMART indicators and monitoring checklist to ensure effective programme management.
4. Provide specific training for children on assessment and analysis, visioning, planning, advocacy and communication, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, as appropriate and according to their evolving capacity. Develop a systematic capacity building of adults involved in CYP.
5. CWC should seriously consider the findings of the case study on NAPC-CBS, to effectively address the issues and concerns raised by the former sectoral representatives so that the new elected ones will not be subjected to the same undesirable experiences.
The report also offers some general recommendation to further the promotion CYP in the Philippines, as follows:
1. For CWC and NCCYP to review, revise and re-design the National Framework on Child and Youth Participation and push for its translation into a government policy to institutionalize it further in various departments of the government at national and sub-national levels.
2. NCCYP to pro-actively promote the institutionalization of CYP integrating it in the National Plan of Action (NPAC) with defined institutional programmes and resource commitments to CYP, as well as, a clear and workable monitoring system to accompany it.
3. For CWC and NCCYP to organize a national forum for sharing and exchange of use of reference materials, training modules, orientation packages, operational guides, or pamphlets on CYP. CWC and NCCYP do not have to “re-invent the wheel” so to speak.
4. Expand the membership of the NCCYP to include the children sectoral representatives, NACCAP, and other relevant federation of children’s association in other regions.
5. Together, CWC and NCCYP should be able to advocate for CYP at home, school, Barangay, community, etc. A mix of programme communication materials such as practical handbook in comic form, poster, drama, radio plug on CYP will be useful in addressing this concern.
6. Support the development of a guidebook on child and youth participation designed specifically for children and youth be developed to keep them aware of their participation right and to encourage them to fulfill this right in effective and meaningful ways.
7. In terms of child participation specifically in governance, CWC and NCCYP should devise a capability building programme strategy to strengthen children’s participation in government structures mandating the representation of children such as NAPC-CBS, the NCCECCD, the RSCWC, the Provincial/City/ Municipal/Barangay Council for the Welfare of Children and other government and private institutions.
Contact the Author:
Henry R. Ruiz, PhD
P106 SouthStar Plaza
Bangkal, Makati City
For further information, please contact:
Ms. Marissa Navales
Council for the Welfare of children
All opinions are of the author’s and do not reflect CWCs policies and opinions. Any discrepancy is the sole responsibility of the writer.