Child in the City International Seminar 2022 – Introducing…keynote speaker Regula Flisch

As we prepare to host next month’s Child in the City International Seminar, child rights experts from across the world are also getting ready to join us and share their knowledge with all of you. The first keynote speech will be given by Regula Flisch, an acclaimed education expert from the University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland.

Regula will talk – among other key issues – about an ‘app’ which is helping ensure children are better informed about their rights and know how to exercise them. Ahead of the event, she spoke to Child to the Child

Child in the City: Can you please give an outline of your role, and also that of the department and/or organisation you work for?

Regula Flisch: I work at the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences in St. Gallen. The university has seven departments with different themes, at three different locations. There is a Center for Executive Education across all departments and locations. I manage this centre, and I also teach in some of our courses. One of my main topics is child protection. The clients of continuing education are people who work in different professions and are continuing their education by attending an MAS Master of Advanced Studies or a CAS Certificate of Advanced Studies.

CitC: In your experience, do you think that society as a whole, considers the rights of children enough?

RF: No, here we still have a lot of potential for development, no matter which country we live in. We often talk about children’s rights, but we don’t act on them enough.

CiTC: How important is it that we, as a society, talk and listen to young people about how they feel and what they want?

RF: Absolutely vital. Young people are our future – specifically, it is their future that we are currently shaping, so it is immensely important that we involve them in shaping their future!

CiTC: You’re involved in the development of the Kinderrechte-App (children’s rights). What was the spark behind this, who is it aimed at, how has it been developed and who has been involved?

RF: The initial spark was a cantonal* child protection project. Here it became apparent (once again) that children are usually only informed about their rights via adults, and there is little material that is directly aimed at children. But when children need counselling or protection, for example, it is important that they find appropriate specialised agencies without the support of adults, because they need to be protected from them, for example. And from this circumstance, the idea developed to do this via the mobile phone, since most children either own a mobile phone or at least have access to one. (*A canton is a Swiss administrative region, of which there are 26)

CiTC: What are the key short and/or long-term goals of this project?

RF: The following three main objectives have been formulated for the project:

  •  An age-appropriate digital presentation of children’s rights in app form through a participatory approach with children and professionals
  • Transferable knowledge and recommendations for the participatory design of digital solutions with children aged 6-12 years through direct work with children, educators and child rights experts
  • Materials for the use and dissemination of the digital application in school and out-of-school settings.

CiTC: COVID has obviously had a huge effect on everyone’s working lives. What challenges did it present to you and the other people involved in this project?

RF: Like all other projects, the transition to a purely digital project was a challenge. This was especially so in the first part of the project, which took place during the first lockdown, when we held three conferences, all digital. This was a big technical challenge at the time, as all of us – including the participants – were not yet that practised. But it worked out great.

CiTC: Are web/online based projects now the main way for policymakers to engage with young people, or does ‘physical interaction’ – e.g. meetings and focus groups – still have an important role to play?

RF: I would say they are important, but not the most important way. COVID in particular has shown that people, including young people, still like to meet and interact physically. I think the combination of the physical and the digital is relevant today.

CiTC: You will be presenting details of this project at the Child in the City International Seminar in Cascais. If you could have the audience take away just one key message on the day, what would it be?

RF: In the project, children’s participation is a big issue. The message: children know very well what they need, our job is to support them to get what they need.

The Child in the City International Seminar takes place from May 19-20 in Cascais, Portugal. Have you registered to attend? Click here for more information

Author: Simon Weedy

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