"Three UNICEF Youth Ambassadors spoke to the National Advisory Council about their Report to the Committee for the Rights of the Child, entitled Picture Your Rights. We presented the Advisory Council with our views on the outcome document (Concluding Observations) from the CRC.
Issues that arose in the document included the Leaving Cert points system and the stress it causes young people. The current Leaving cert point system as a major stress factor which affects the mental health of many teenagers living in Ireland at present. It was also described as a system which gave unfair representation because it only takes into considerations the ability of a student to take in as much information and write it all out on one given day. They have recommended the use of continuous assessment methods which would take the pressure off 6th year students. The use of continuous assessment would adopt various types of examinations such as projects, presentations and also the typical tests. These methods would suit all types of learners and may lead to an increase in the rate of students pursuing third level education and create a more positive approach to learning.
Another issue raised by the CRC that was highlighted in our report was religion in school. Discrimination continues to be allowed by the state toward children who are not baptised or who want to be educated outside of a faith based school.
We also raised out disappointment regarding the lack of references to climate change in the recommendations. An issue that we feel strongly should be included as a children’s rights issue. We feel that it is something that will affect our futures and thus, it needs to be faced. We recommended informative workshops for schools and communities, which would raise awareness on this issue. What future will we have if the planet will exist no more in a few years time? Our recommendations were welcomed by the National Advisory Council and they agreed to have young people present to them at more regular intervals. "