It is half-time in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals ("SDGs") is in jeopardy - and with it the realisation of children's rights, because each of the goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda has a central significance for children.
Equal opportunities for every child - this is also our premise at our day centre in Vienna. Because child poverty also exists in Vienna and equal opportunities for all children are far from being given. Precarious living conditions, war and flight traumas, cramped living conditions and lack of language skills are just some of the factors that make it difficult for children and young people to participate in educational opportunities. In Austria, the educational level of the parents is still decisive for the school success of the children.
Interview with Linda Oberndorfer from LenZ
On the occasion of World Children's Day, we asked Linda Oberndorfer, Head of Learning Support at the CONCORDIA Day Centre LenZ in Vienna, a few questions:
For me, equal opportunities means that every child has the same opportunities regardless of gender and origin. In Austria, access to education and vocational training is still strongly dependent on the social background of the parents. This means that a child born into a low-income family with a migration background, who comes from a non-EU country and has little to no knowledge of German, has a much harder time getting to where a child of the same age from a well-off Austrian academic family will end up professionally. Fortunately, there are people and social institutions in Vienna that try to counteract this and give all children a chance for an equal future.
Where do you see the hurdles for children when it comes to their future, or what hurdles do you identify based on your experience in working with children and young people?
Many of the children who come to us get (too) little support from home, because for various reasons the parents are not able to accompany their children in their school career in the way that is necessary in our school system. The needs of the children are also varied: for some, a quiet room is simply important in order to be able to concentrate while learning; others need support in order to be able to build up a secure linguistic basis in German, or simply people who accompany them in their learning or also share in their progress. For the older children, the support often goes in the direction of youth coaching, in addition to preparing papers and schoolwork: for example, when they have to organise their work experience days.
What would it take to break down these barriers?
A fair education system that cushions social differences with quantitatively more and interculturally better qualified education staff, focuses more on strengths and selects less. More individualised care and a more collaborative approach would certainly also be central: mixed classes in which children from both German-speaking and non-German-speaking families meet and support each other in their weaknesses and strengths in order to be able to develop in the best possible way.
What role do children's rights play in your educational work?
A very big one. Basically, children's rights form the basis of my daily work. In addition, we often invite experts from Amnesty International to hold workshops on the topic of children's rights for our children.