Around one million gainfully employed people in Germany work with children and adolescents in fields relating to social and childhood education. These are joined by some 370,000 gainfully employed people who practise professions in social work, social education or social counselling. If teachers, paediatricians, legal specialists and judges are also counted, e.g. in view of the more than 100,000 custody cases raised before German courts in 2017, there are many other people who also contribute to respecting children’s rights in their daily work, protecting children against third parties, and ensuring institutional support for and promotion of children’s rights.
Of key importance is the notion of helping children and adolescents know and stand up for their rights. The German federal government has been asked on numerous occasions to systematically establish comprehensive components on children’s and human rights education as permanent fixtures in the curricula of relevant professions when training specialists (see also Chapter 8). Member states are obliged to ensure the ‘professional suitability of staff’ at the corresponding institutions. This includes ‘appropriate training and the provisions of continued education and advanced training options for which attendance must be compulsory’. In the State Report, the German federal government’s reference to (advanced) training in children’s rights is rather brief and unsystematic, relating it almost exclusively to professions in the field of justice.
It must be a top priority to take action in training specialists working in social fields, as they offer tremendous but insufficiently utilised potential to defend children’s rights. To date, however, children’s rights have not been taught systematically in study programmes and curricula pertaining to social work and childhood education. The laws on state accreditation of study programmes make no reference to children’s rights.
The clear provisions of Article 3 Paragraph 3 and Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the one hand, and the shortcomings in the reality of (advanced) training and continued education in children’s rights on the other, highlight an urgent need to increase the focus on educating social-working professionals in the issue of children’s rights.
- The National Coalition Germany recommends that the UN Committee call on the German federal government to
- 16. Work with the German states to ensure education in children’s and human rights is firmly established in all training courses and curricula aimed at preparing specialists for fields of work which, in accordance with Article 3 Paragraph 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, revolve around child welfare or protection;
- 17. Work with the German states to amend their laws on the state accreditation of relevant study programmes by adding nationwide regulations and professional standards;
- 18. Promote the initiatives of scientific associations and interest groups to firmly establish human rights education in study programmes, and create incentives for relevant research, teaching and continued education;
- 19. Work with other national institutions at a state and municipal level, and independent sponsors, to ensure advanced training and continued education options in children’s rights are systematically made available for skilled workers and specialists.