The conviction underlying Learning to Work Together is that the main obstacles to children’s participation are adult fears and uncertainties when confronted with the challenge to fulfill this right. In all societies, and certainly in Asia, traditional views of children are that they are dependent on adults and lack competence in making decisions. Thus the idea of children’s participation confronts established ideas and practices.
In order to help programme managers work through these issues in their own terms, Learning to Work Together is divided into four chapters. The first provides answers to some basic questions about children’s participation, including the human and children’s rights foundation in international law. The following two chapters examine how children’s participation can fit into a programme or project cycle, as well as some specific issues in participatory child labour programming. Finally the Handbook discusses the question of how to create environments that will help children’s participation develop, from adultinitiated activities and programmes to a right shared and enjoyed in all aspects of their lives by all children. Because some of the ideas may be new to the programme managers for whom the Handbook has been written, each chapter is summed up in a list of ‘Learning Points’ followed by questions to aid reflection. The Handbook incorporates the words of children about the main issues addressed, as well as stories from experiences of children’s participation in Asia, which are included in boxes in the text, to show what children’s participation can be like in practice. Nevertheless, children’s participation is a process in which children and adults are indeed learning to work together, thus none of the boxes or quotations should be taken as model examples of children’s participation.
The Handbook ends with a list of easy-to-locate resources to support the development of successful programmes to combat child labour, in which children will participate with adults in all stages of the programme cycle.