Source: Save The Children
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, children have been developing and articulating their demands for decision-makers in relation to COVID-19. However, the necessary global and national responses to halt the spread of the disease, such as national lockdowns, have hugely restricted children’s already limited access to spaces where they can participate safely and meaningfully in public decision-making.
Children have the right to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet our research shows that, even before the spread of coronavirus, many children felt that adults did not listen or take their views seriously. Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, children are facing even greater challenges to having their voices heard.
We are supporting children to have their ideas heard – and acted upon – at international, regional and national levels in various ways as part of our #ProtectAGeneration campaign.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a deep impact on children, families, communities and societies the world over. Over 1.5 billion children have been affected by school closures, with 80% of children saying that they learnt little or nothing at all during the pandemic. For a whole generation of children, their education is under threat.
This month, children will be putting forward their views about what should happen to save their education through a series of Digital Hangouts, enabling children to make their demands directly to global leaders. The Digital Hangouts, which started in Nepal, have been expanded to several other countries, including South Africa, Georgia and Mali.
On Tuesday 8 September, children from Canada, Colombia, Jordan, Nigeria, Norway and the UK will take part in the first Global Digital Hangout, meeting virtually with government representatives to put across their suggestions and recommendations for continuing children’s education during COVID-19.
Hear it from the children
Children are being deeply affected by the crisis; they are fast becoming the biggest victims of its social and economic impacts. At the height of the crisis, over 1.6 billion learners were out of school. 117 million more children are still at risk of falling into poverty. Adolescent girls may never return to school due to gender based violence and child marriage.
Millions of children don’t have access to the internet or computers, so we’re innovating and adapting our work in remote communities, conflict zones and refugee camps to keep learning alive.
Around the world, children have been drawing comics showing their life and future to tell a story about education. The Draw Your Future activity is another way for children to campaign and tell leaders the importance of maintaining access to education, especially for marginalised children who don’t have access to the internet. The comics will be displayed in a gallery on our website soon.
As another means of hearing from children worldwide, we conducted a new global survey, the largest ever of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared six months ago. We heard from some 25,000 children and their caregivers around the world who shared their experiences during this unprecedented global crisis and the findings will be launched later this week in our Protect A Generation report.
Within the report, we feature the Children’s Agenda for Action, a collation of children’s demands of global leaders based on what children have told us as part of our global survey, as well as the online events and child-led initiatives we’ve been supporting since the start of the crisis.
Children best know the problems that they face and often have innovative solutions to those issues. It is more important than ever that we listen, amplify and act on children’s own recommendations and hold governments to account to solve the challenges that they are facing.
Children’s rights to participate and to be heard must be upheld. A generation’s survival, safety, education and future depends on it.
 Orr, K., Emerson, L., Lundy, L., Royal-Dawson, L. and Jimenez, E., (2016) ‘Children Speak Out’, Save the Children p.5.
 Lundy, L. and Templeton, M., (2018) ‘Children Human Rights Defenders, The Views, Perspectives and Recommendations of Children Across the World’, Save the Children p.10.