The juxtaposition of rights and responsibilities: children’s experiences and perceptions




Children's rights and responsibilities, Comparative analysis, Diverse settings, Juxtaposition, Rights and responsibility education


Rights and responsibilities are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa but are disregarded in many ways in the education of young children. This article focuses on comparing the experiences and perceptions of Grade 3 children of their rights and responsibilities across diverse school settings. The comparison of data sets highlighted reciprocity in children’s experiences and showed challenges and gaps in children’s education of rights and responsibilities. This research was qualitative in nature, using a multiple case study design with ninety-six (n=96) participating children. Data gathering occurred through interviews, observation, documents, field notes and visual artefacts made by the participating children. The findings were that education firstly advances children’s understanding and knowledge of their rights and responsibilities. Secondly, basic needs of children have a significant effect on their understanding of their rights and responsibilities with the emphasis on rights. Children’s perceptions of their rights and responsibilities were juxtaposed to assist in finding similarities and differences in their perceptions. Thirdly, the participant children understood that people have needs and rights; they communicated that these rights must be recognised to safeguard a sustainable standard of life.


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Author Biographies

Dr Linda van Aardt, University of Pretoria, South Africa

The field of expertise of Dr Linda van Aardt is Foundation Phase Education and Children’s Rights. Her research interest is Children’s rights and how to empower children and protect them. She has a strong interest in researching young children’s ideas and thoughts as well as, human rights. 


Dr Roy Venketsamy, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Dr Roy Venketsamy is a lecturer in the Department of Early Childhood Education at the University of Pretoria. He is currently the coordinator of Mathematics Education in the Department. He has been involved in the management and support of Life Skills/Life Orientation nationally. Furthermore, he is responsible for the development and alignment of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement: Life-Skills/Life-Orientation. His field of expertise is Foundation Phase Education and Life Skills/Life Orientation. His research interests include Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Transformative Pedagogy, Play-based Education and Mathematics Education in the Foundation Phase.


Prof Ina Joubert, SANTS

Prof. Ina Joubert has more than 35 years’ experience in education and has served in different positions. She has recently been appointed as Executive Academic Director of SANTS Private Higher Education Institution. Prof. Joubert has published numerous books, chapters in books and scholarly articles. She was granted a special achievement award for the promotion of the Afrikaans language in Early Childhood Education by the Academy for Science and Art in 2018. Prof. Joubert’s work in literacy and Citizenship Education in Early Childhood has earned her several accolades.





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How to Cite

van Aardt, L., Venketsamy, R. ., Thuketana, N. S., & Joubert, J. C. . (2021). The juxtaposition of rights and responsibilities: children’s experiences and perceptions . Perspectives in Education, 39(4), 118–134.



Research articles