An all-girls school on the northside of Cork City has become the first school in Ireland recognised by Unicef for embedding children’s rights in its policy, practice, and ethos.
St Vincent’s on St Mary’s Rd is the first school in Ireland to receive a Rights Respecting Schools Silver Award from the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The student-led project required the input of the whole school, including teachers, the student council, and the school's board of management, according to student Prome Hossain, Gurranabraher, a spokeswoman for the project’s steering group.
“The award is for promoting children’s rights, make everyone aware of them, and incorporate them into our daily lives," she said.
“At the start of this journey, the steering committee talked to students, we talked to teachers and to our board and told them what we were going to do to achieve this award.”
“We told them about what Unicef is about, and we told them about what the Rights Respecting School Award is about.”
The steering committee also had to put together an action plan, which they then had to present to Unicef.
The school was also assessed by Unicef through a site visit, looking at the whole school's rights-respecting work. Students and teachers were also asked what they have done to promote children’s rights in the school.
It must also see that the school is promoting knowledge and understanding of the convention, and that it is beginning to see the positive impact of these actions on children and young people.
Last year, St Vincent’s was also the first school to receive the Rights Respecting School Bronze Award.
It is an amazing achievement for the students, according to Rosemarie Ferriter, deputy principal.
"They are an amazing group of students. We have the steering committee, but they also linked in with our student council.
"There was an extended group of students as well who helped with assessments. It has to permeate the whole school, you have to verify that it's not just the steering group who know about the rights, but that you are living the rights, and that every student, teacher, and parent knows.
"We have some amazing younger students involved as well; very vocal, and they have great ideas."