School children supported by Challenging Heights have been conducting their own research over the last six months as part of the IDS Participate* project.

Twenty children, age nine to seventeen, were chosen randomly from upper primary and junior high school classes and initial training in child-led research was given by our Indian member Butterflies. The children collectively came up with their research topic: teenage pregnancy. They then worked together to design semi-structured interview questions and interviewed 58 of their classmates on their perceptions and attitudes about teenage pregnancy.

Special operations manager Carly Edwards said: “It was quite a surprise to our staff that this topic was chosen, especially since child labor and child trafficking are topics that are often talked about at the school and would have been easy for the children to select.

“That the children chose teenage pregnancy as their topic clearly highlighted that this is an important issue to them.”

Child researchers at Challenging Heights Through lots of hard work and learning, the researchers then analysed the data, combined it with their own experiences and ideas, and created presentations using a variety of mediums. Some used video of a newscast to present their findings and others created presentations based on a blog post or poster. The children are now preparing to share their presentations with their classmates, after which they will continue to present their findings to neighbouring schools.

Speaking after the practice exchange with Butterflies, Challenging Heights’ President James Kofi Annan said: “There is a need for us to get the perspective of children on issues and how they feel about things. And also draw lessons for us as to whether or not we are right when we are providing interventions for children because most of these interventions are provided by adults and we provide them per our own views and beliefs as to what is happening.

“Sometimes we may think that this solution is the best but a child might feel differently so if you involve children in such research then you are going to get the unallied views from the ground. As the children lead this research they also build their own leadership and are creative about how they think about things and they take ownership of the outcomes.”