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Children and young people as transformative researchers in Nicaragua. Harry Shier CESESMA, San Ramón, Matagalpa, Nicaragua a nd Queen’s University Belfast. In this presentation :. Children’s lives in Nicaragua’s coffee plantations. Nicaraguan child workers become expert consultants.

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Children and young people as transformative researchers in Nicaragua

Harry Shier

CESESMA,San Ramón, Matagalpa, Nicaragua

and Queen’sUniversity Belfast

in this presentation
In thispresentation:
  • Children’s lives in Nicaragua’s coffee plantations.
  • Nicaraguan child workers become expert consultants.
  • From child consultants to Transformative Researchers.
  • Young researchers make the television news.




Much of it is still produced on large feudally-run plantations like this one, Santa Martha


Harvestingcoffeeishighly labour-intensive. During the harvestperiod (NovembertoFebruary) manythousands of childrenworkalldayeveydaypickingcoffee …


Contents of the sacks are measured at the end of each day, and registered workers are paid according to the quantity picked.

Children are not registered and not paid.


Primary schools exist in most communities, but are under-resourced, poorly staffed, and often in bad repair


CESESMA, the Centre for Education in Health and Environment, is a local voluntary organisation based in San Ramón.

CESESMA’s office in the town of San Ramón – bought and renovatedwithsupportfrom the IrishGovernmentthroughIrishAid



Contribute to the promotion and defense children and young people’s rights through processes of learning and empowerment in rural schools and communities, in partnership with children and young people and other members of the community.


Nicaraguan child workers become consultants

2007: National conference on violence against children. The organisers needed an expert to do the keynote speech. Who should they ask? Someone from UNICEF, or from Save the Children?

We said, “Why shouldn’t children do the keynote speech? They are experts in the topic of violence against children”.

And so a team of child coffee workers from Santa Martha coffee plantation became the first child consultants in Nicaragua


Data analysis

Drawing up recommendations


Preparing a final report

Rehearsingthe formal presentation

a direct challenge to the minister for the family
A directchallengetotheMinisterfortheFamily…

…and toalltheconferencedelegates.


The following year the children retold their experience in words and pictures in “A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation”.

2009: Children and young people from the indigenous community of Guadalupe Arriba research the issue of violence against children



Preparing the final report


Presenting the findings and recommendations to a district forum of teachers and education ministry officials.

Reportpublishedby CESESMA


2009: “Children and Young PeopleDefendingourRightto Play” campaign

Action-research teams carry out an appraisal of play opportunities and limitations in their communities.


They present their findings and recommendations in both the local communities and the Municipal Children and Youth Committees.

Community festival in Samulalí

Municipal Children and Youth Committee, San Ramón


Campaign banners

“Children and young people defending our right to play, For health, learning, development, happiness and a life without violence.”


Thesechildren’sresearch has hadrecognitionnationally in Nicaragua:

Article by the children’s research team in Nicaragua’s children’s rights magazine “Arco Iris” (November 2009)

National newspaper feature drawing on the children’s findings. Title: “What are we playing at?”


…and globally:

As a contribution to the report “Children’s Right to Play” published by the Bernard Van Leer Foundation – which was influential in getting a UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment on Article 31.

As a case study of good practice in “Every Child’s Right to be Heard”, the resource guide on the UN Committee’s General Comment No 12 (UNICEF / Save the Children UK, 2011).


2009: The Santa Martha coffee plantation Young Consultants’ team reforms to research the relationship between business and human rights on the plantation


Field research

Field research


Presentation of the findings and recommendations at a regional conference in Matagalpa

Reportpublishedby CESESMA.

This report is also available on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a contribution to the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s forthcoming General Comment on “Children’s Rights and the Business Sector”


2011: Young consultants produce a child-friendly version of the UN Comm-ittee’s recommendations to the government of Nicaragua as part of a national campaign to push for compliance.


National launch of the child-friendly version, programmed and presented by children and young people in Managua, August 2012 (three weeks ago)

2011 four teams of young researchers carry out their own self chosen research projects
2011: Four teams of young researchers carry out their own self-chosen research projects

El Plomo-La Garita-Siare team

Research topic: Respect in the community, and how lack of respect leads to violence.


Yasica Sur team

Research topic: The violence that children and young people suffer in the home.


Samulalí team

Research topic: Parents who hit their children. Why do they do it and what are the alternatives?


Yúcul team

Researchtopic: Alcohol and violence in thecommunity.


The four research reports were published in book form by CESESMA in Nicaragua in March 2012.

An English translation has been produced jointly by CESESMA and The Centre at UCLan, and was launched on 5 September in Preston.


A television news crew from national Channel 2 came to Yúcul, and made a TV news feature about the young people’s research on alcohol and violence.



Muchas gracias