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Panel Discussion Report 39: Children’s rights to education

Panel discussion, nowadays, is no more limited in the professional ground; rather it has started to involve students in higher education ensuring their active participation by sharing information and creating dialogues on various issues. As a part of student’s participation in the course ‘Introduction to Civil Society,’ thus, we gathered in a panel discussion on last Monday, 24th June 2013 and discussed about ‘Children’s rights to education,’ a very contemporary issue relevant to civil societies and its works.

1.0 Overview of the Points Discussed

The discussion was held to point out the importance of child education, the factors and challenges affecting child education, the required actions and solutions to ensure children’s rights to education. Hence, we invited four distinctive sectors of the society in our discussion who play roles, implement strategies and influences children’s rights to education. The panel discussion was divided into two sessions. On our first session, panelists shared the roles played and strategies taken by several sectors whereas on the second session, they came up with challenges and suggested solutions. At the beginning of our discussion, the moderator Mr. Imran defined the term ‘Education.’ He also pointed out the rationales behind bringing the distinctive sectors of the society and addressed questions to the panelists. Upon replying, the first panelist Mr. Hamdun shared the roles and responsibilities of families in monitoring children’s education. He emphasized that parents should not discriminate their children in taking education and thus the perception needs to be changed. The second panelist Mr. Ali also stressed on the roles and activities of civil societies and eventually hoped to obtain collaboration from governments. I was the third panelist and came out with roles and strategies of the child welfare organization, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). I also stressed on the challenges that UNICEF faces in countries due to limited resources and corruption among government employees around the world while operating their activities. In fact, the points raised by the representatives from civil society and UNICEF blamed the government directly and indirectly for ineffective and slower strategies and less collaboration with the civil society organizations (CSOs). Therefore, the fourth panelist Mr. Biplob came into picture and refuted the points from the government’s point of view. He mentioned of government’s effort in collaborating with CSOs and effective steps allowing mandatory primary education in government schools and equal education to children. Prior to this, he also talked about the roles played and actions taken by government. Though there were agreements and disagreements during the discussion, all the panelists actually hoped and suggested to work together with these important sectors of the society. Eventually, the moderator put an end to the discussion with the hope that all the sectors would come together and collaborate with each other in order to ensure children’s rights to education.

2.0 The Process

2.1 Planning

The planning was the most preliminary stage of the process. While planning for the panel discussion, the first task was to select a suitable topic. Though finally we agreed upon to talk on children’s rights, the next task was to narrow it down. Subsequently, we chose to discuss on the education rights of children and finalized the topic with the lecturer. Moreover, the second task was to select the moderator and the panelists. One of us volunteered to be the moderator and others remained as panelists. Our third task was to identify four topics and divide the tasks to each of the panelists. While dividing the task, the panelists volunteered to choose their particular topics from the identified four sectors (families, government, civil society and UNICEF). Prior to the actual panel discussion in class, we had several times of rehearsal which helped to keep our discussion organized, interactive and in time.

2.2 Points of Agreement/Disagreement/Resolution

During the planning and preparation stage, we faced several points of disagreements across the board. However, we came out with alternative decision and replaced the disagreed points with more appropriate and accurate solution. Firstly, we faced conflicting issue while deciding the topic of the panel discussion. At the very beginning, Mr. Ali actually came up with the topic ‘Poverty.’ Then we found difficulties to narrow it down and moved to another topic related to women rights and empowerment. In fact, we did not agree upon this topic which led to seek for an alternative topic. Then after selection and narrowing down, we specified our topic to ‘children’s rights to education.’ Secondly, we also faced conflicts in deciding the panelists’ position whether all the panelists should support the topic or there should also be some panelists opposing against the issue which in order to make it an interesting session. Later we found that ‘children’s rights’ are universal and opposing it may reflect a panelist’s personal inhuman characteristics. Therefore, in order to make the discussion lively, interesting and more interactive, civil society and UNICEF representatives decided to go against the government. Government also planned to come up with contrary arguments showing their stable position. Thirdly, we fell into disagreement while deciding the format of the questions to be addressed by the moderator. Primarily, the group members were agreed upon following regular style of asking one or two questions at a time and addressing each panelist only once. However, when we realized the necessity of making the discussion realistic, interesting and interactive, we decided to change the format. In the new format, we decided to include two sessions where in the first session, the panelists will only be sharing information and in the second session, the interactivity and concentration will be growing among the panelists and the audience through creation of conflicts or disagreements.

3.0 The Implementation

3.1 The satisfaction/strengths

Since, our panel discussion included novelty, creativity and interactivity, there are several points to be satisfied with. In my point of view, one of the strengths of our discussion was the confidence, strong voice and on-spot attitude of the panelists. I personally liked the beginning of our discussion with clear definition of the topic. I also liked the Question and Answer session where we were bold, confident and rational through active participation of the panelists and the audiences. The part of the discussion that satisfied me most is when Mr. Ali pointed out the shortcomings of the government, I raised points to add up agreeing with him without being asked by the moderator. It shows our commitment to make an interactive, realistic and lively panel discussion.

3.2 The dissatisfaction/weaknesses

Despite the strengths, our discussion had weaknesses as well that I was not satisfied with. In fact, there was less coherence in facial expression such as eye contact in few of our panelists during the discussion which needs to be developed. An attractive and interesting discussion also depends on panelists’ eye contact which should direct from the panel towards the audience.

4.0 Learning/Reflection on Panel Discussion

4.1 On informative speech

The speeches delivered by the panelists and the moderator were quite informative. While sharing opinions and points of arguments, the panelists in fact came up with supportive examples and citations from authentic references. For example, Mr. Biplob was talking about ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’ act in India which was regulated by the government in order to ensure education for all. Besides, we were also clear while speaking of the points of roles played or strategies followed by several sectors in particular; most of us were mentioning of number 1 followed by number 2, 3, 4 and onwards while raising the points. In addition, we were also linking to other panelists’ speech wherever the relevant issue was raised. For example, while talking about the weaknesses of government actions, I linked to Mr. Biplob’s speech and mentioned of the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’ act in India which is being slower due to several problems. I even referred to Mr. Ali’s speech while appreciating the contribution and roles of civil society in ensuring children’s rights to education.

4.2 Handling questions

During the discussion, the floor was quiet and listening to a seemingly dynamic conversation among the panelists. The reflection of their (audience) concentration came out while the floor was opened for Question and Answer session, through their consecutive questions, comments and active participation. In addition, the questions asked by the students were spontaneous and relevant. A total of three questions were asked by two students from the floor. The first question was about the capability of the parents in monitoring children’s education. We seemed very prepared for such question that the answer came from three panelists consecutively. In fact, the questioner expressed his satisfaction after listening to the replies from the panel. The second and third question was asked by another audience about the guardian’s responsibility for disabled and orphan children and the roles of UNICEF in westernizing the education system in many third world countries. Both I and Mr. Hamdun were able to reply with further explanation and relevant evidence. I believe that the participation of the audience from the floor actually gave an opportunity to the panel to share further information based on their (audience) demand. Furthermore, it opened a platform to raise both positive and negative opinions from the audience. It also helped to evaluate the panelists’ confidence level and the capability to deliver impromptu answers. 5.0 Conclusion

In conclusion, the panel presentation was another good opportunity for me in order to be a spontaneous presenter. There are stuffs in every job that tell us to reflect upon and learn from mistakes or experience. This panel discussion was not out of this doing-learning pattern. Especially, I realized that more consciousness is required on an effective time management. I also got to learn that after a discussion done spontaneous questions may come from people around, however we have to encounter them effectively. For a while, I was experiencing a real-time talk show similar to a television panel discussion where panelists discuss on various issues on live. Therefore, in my point of view, to make a better panel discussion, we need to have proper time management and spontaneous discussion together with active participation of the audience that will make the session more lively and interactive.

6.0 References

A Human Rights-based Approach to Education for All. (2007). UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001548/154861e.pdf

Advancing Children’s Rights. (n.d.). Child Rights International Networks database. Retrieved from http://www.crin.org/docs/Advancing%20Children’s%20Rights%20-%20CSO%20Guide%20to%20the%20ACERWC.pdf

Brohi, N.A. (2007). Child Rights and Role of Civil Society. [Seminar Report]. Retrieved from http://www.sangatsindh.org/Reports/Seminar%20on%20Child%20Rights%20Nawabshah.pdf

Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse. (n.d.). UNICEF. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58008.html

Children Rights in Education: Applying A Rights based Approach to Education. (n.d.). UNICEF Canada. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.ca/sites/default/files/imce_uploads/UTILITY%20NAV/TEACHERS/DOCS/GC/Childrens_Rights_in_Education.pdf

Convention on the Rights of Children. (n.d.). UNICEF. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org.au/Discover/What-we-do/Convention-on-the-Rights-of-the-Child/childfriendlycrc.aspx

Lake, L., & Pendlebury, S. (n.d.). Children’s right to basic education. Children’s Institute. Retrieved from http://www.ci.org.za/depts/ci/pubs/pdf/general/gauge2008/part_two/education.pdf

Masarath, S. (2011). Stpes taken by Indian government to promote education. Razvimirza blog [Post]. Retrieved from http://razvimirza.blogspot.com/2011/07/steps-taken-by-indian-government-to.html

Shepherd, J. (2010). 70 million children get no education says report. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/sep/20/70m-get-no-education

Sullivan, E. (2003). Civil Society and Social Accountability: A Human Rights Approach to Parent and Community Participation in NYC Schools. Center for Economic and Social Rights database. Retrieved from http://www.cesr.org/downloads/Civil%20Society%20and%20School%20Accountability.pdf

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