Young Refugee Children in Norway: A Critical Study on how the Right of Expression is addressed in ECEC
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The current study is a master thesis in Early Childhood Education and Care at NTNU’s Department of Education in Norway. This thesis has been written during the spring of 2012. In this master thesis I investigated how early childhood education and care provision (ECEC) practitioners and other related professionals interpret and work with children’s fundamental right of expression with regard to newly arrived young refugee children between the ages two to six years. Children’s right for expression is incorporated, as one of the four core principles, in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). An empirical investigation was carried out in order to uncover challenging aspects in the collaboration between ECEC provision and newly arrived refugee families with regard to safeguarding and promoting children’s right for expression. In all, 12 respondents were interviewed. These were all professionals working directly or indirectly for or towards the fulfilment of the refugee family’s needs and rights. According to the respondents, practitioners and other professionals can at times loose sight on the fact that young accompanied refugee children are not mere “attachments” to their parents but are people with their own rights and needs. There was recognised that also the young children have the right to ask questions and the right to give and receive information on matters concerning their own lives. However, how this is done in daily situations can be understood as being challenging. A number of challenges were identified in relation to how practitioners work with the right of expression for the youngest of refugee children. As a result of a weakened form of collaboration, children’s right for expression is difficult to support in a sufficient manner with respect to young newly arrived refugee children. Results from this study showed that especially communication, both verbal and non-verbal, between ECEC provision and newly arrived refugee families is complicated. Challenges in communication were found to exist between the following groups: ECEC practitioners - newly arrived refugee children/families and ECEC practitioners - sub-systems (professional actors and instances surrounding the families).