Core Themes

Children and Youth

The Children and Youth Programme (CYP) is an independent collaboration between the two UNESCO Chairs in Ireland at the University of Ulster and NUI Galway, focusing on the well‑being of children and youth in Ireland and Northern Ireland, using a rights‑based approach.

The Programme has received grant funding of £985,223 over an initial two year period, and currently employs staff working in both the Coleraine Campus of the University of Ulster and the National University of Ireland, Galway. The Programme has initiated a debate on two key points:

  • The value of a rights‑based approach to the planning and provision of children’s services in both parts of the island
  • The possibility of both governments incorporating a stronger commitment to children’s rights in legislation

The first two CYP reports, A Rights‑Based Approach to Monitoring Children and Young People’s Well‑Being, and Understanding Policy Development and Implementation for Children and Young People, have been completed and disseminated to a range of key audiences on both parts of the island. This includes Ministers in both governments and every elected legislator on the island (108 MLAs and 165 TDs). Reaction to the first two papers in the series has been overwhelmingly positive and programme team members are currently in the process of meeting with senior politicians and stakeholders to further cement relationships between the Programme, the University and civic society.

Targeted thematic papers applying the approaches outlined by the rights and policy papers will be produced over 2012 in the areas of youth justice, educational achievement, mental health, and civic engagement; each paper will target a specific audience in both government and civic society which we hope will help to place the UNESCO Centre and the wider University at the centre of these crucial policy debates.

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Education and conflict

The UNESCO Centre works closely with a number of national and international bodies to provide expert research findings in the field of Education and Conflict. Our research has been acknowledged as world leading and has helped to set the scene for some of the most important international development debates currently being addressed by international bodies, such as The World Bank, UNICEF, and UNESCO.

The Centre has built a recognised expertise base in the role of education in reconciliation in post‑conflict affected countries over the last decade. This has included projects focusing on children’s perspectives of education and reconciliation in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and major contributions to global publications such as the UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report series. More recently Professor Alan Smith presented the findings of a 15‑month research project carried out for UNICEF on The Role of Education in Peacebuilding to an audience of senior global officials. The research involved a detailed literature review and case studies which included field work in Lebanon, Nepal and Sierra Leone.

Researchers from the UNESCO Centre are regularly asked to present findings at major international conferences and make contributions to key journals and publications in the field of education and conflict. Senior team members have also recently completed editing a major new book on education and internally displaced persons due for publication in Autumn 2012.

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International Development

The UNESCO Centre at the University of Ulster has a longstanding track record of research in the field of International Development. UNESCO Chair, Professor Alan Smith has completed work for, and advised, some of the leading global agencies with a stake in International Development including the Department for International Development (DfID) in the United Kingdom, the World Bank, UNICEF and UNESCO.

The Centre focuses much of its research with regard to international development on education; both its role as a positive catalyst for development and as a fundamental right for children and young people around the world. The Centre believes that education is one of the key foundation blocks towards sustainable and just international development and should not be seen as a marginal player in international development policy. Education is deeply implicated in the development of values and identity formation, which are vital for changes that unfold over generations; in the midst of conflict, for example, education can provide knowledge and skills that provide protection, while in the longer term it can develop attitudes and skills that offer a basis for transforming conflict itself.

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