Submitted by Jeanne Potin on 01/04/13 – 11:41


If we try to look at our cities and at our social life in different ways, it is possible to start imagining and building a better society.

The "child’s" new look has the potential to be "alternative" as it embodies the views of all those who are likely to be excluded from the socio-economic and cultural life (such as the elderly, the disabled, foreigners, the poor ...). The 30th Meeting of Freinet Educators proposes to focus every educational effort,so that boys and girls are able to participate in public life, are recognized and heard as individuals and active citizens with full rights, as it is recommended by the 1989 United Nations Convention of Rights of children (*)

The school is an important starting point to affirm and defend the rights of children and adolescents, but it must always be remembered that, as an African proverb states: "To educate a child we need a hole village”', that It means that the task of education does not end in the classroom, but can be a part of any time, any place of social life.

The Ridef meeting, bringing together teachers, educators, administrators and associations of many countries of the world, can help us to understand that the children’s needs and their rights go hand in hand: on one hand, they have a right to freedom of expression and criticism, on the other hand they need protection, tutoring and support while they grow and learn.

We will all be aware and convinced that any injustice, discrimination, any obstacle placed against a single boy or girl, make all the others less free and independent citizens of the world.


The Federation of Movements of Modern School, following the principles of the Celestin Freinet’s pedagogy feels committed to promote, in every school in the world, the growth of each child through learning in a cooperative way, the development of critical thinking and independence of thought. This goal can only be reached through the rejection of any discrimination or conditioning, either racial, linguistic, religious, of gender, political, economic, cultural, social. In this sense, the task of education reaches out of the classroom and involves and empowers every social structure of the community. The aim is to let every boy and every girl acquire what Edgar Morin calls a “Homeland Earth Identity".


During the 30th RIDEF meeting particular attention will be devoted to new information technologies, which, especially in the Western world, are transforming our ways of thinking and learning as well as promoting new lifestyles. The risk is that these new technological tools, introduced early in primary education, may alter the natural experience of growth, self-knowledge and the natural environment, and even the forms of interpersonal communication. We educators believe that virtual experiences are likely to become a substitute for actual experience, we are concerned that the laws of the market would lead to an unnatural growth out of childhood, so that important stages are skipped and adult-like models proposed, and the children are deprived of time for relationships and of freedom of expression.

However, we are aware that deep attention should be given to other forms of violation of the children’s rights which, although old, still exist (and not just in the South of the World): 200 million children are forced to work instead of sitting in the classroom, others - their peers - are forced to become soldiers, and others still face blackmail and abuse, and are subject to exploitation by the adult world. Finally, many others, belonging to ethnic minorities, are despised and left on the margins of civic life.


The teachers of the Freinet Movement invite the world educators to operate so that the school can be transformed into a place of practical implementation of children's rights and a monitoring center for the situations where these rights are denied. We do not forget that in the more economically and socially developed parts of the world there are many immigrant children: the meeting Ridef of Reggio Emilia can be an opportunity to understand not only the different cultures, but also privileged positions which do not take in due consideration fatigue and privation.


From exchanges and meetings to be held in Reggio Emilia we want to launch a strong appeal to schools, educators and the institutions to work together to extend the forms of protection of minors and the development of direct, participated democracy. In particular, we think that Councils attended by boys and girls can be set up in every city as a form of listening to them and of involving them – through direct participation - in the social life of the community. This is against any marketing view which considers education as any other commodity, while it is a common good and inalienable individual right.


We think reforming our cities to make them suitable for our children is the way to change. Urban spaces today are built to meet adult life styles and they dictate fragmented rhythms: the relations are confused by the speed of transport, very few have direct contact with the environment. This is why cities should be rethought and redesigned up by listening to children, this is already the experience of the project conducted by the CNR Francesco Tonucci "the city of the children”.


The society in which we live has been called “liquid” (Zygmund Bauman), that is to say without stable points of reference, and in it we are, all of us, adults and children, drawn to a life directed by syncopated rhythms, constantly at risk of "losing ourselves" into fragmented life experiences.

It is a situation that educators know well, because they read it in their students’ lives: counteracts this tendency is vital in helping children to learn and grow together.

To promote the formation of our students’ identity, which is both unified and plural, it is important to develop their skills in representing and narrating reality. The narrative skill is essential in order to build links, networks of relationships, stories and tales. The development of narrative abilities may allow you to read in new and different ways the rules of living; it can allow you to redesign the cities without ignoring the lively stories of the place and its inhabitants, and it can help everyone to develop original collective identities.


We are aware of the limited attention that childhood receives also in our world, but we also want to remember some achievements of the school and the civil society in our country, so that the best Italian educational experiences can provide, among others, some direction about the ways.

In particular, we think of:

  • The law on the school inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream classes (see Law 517 of 1977)
  • Experiences of integration of foreigners (see "The Italian way to the intercultural school and the integration of foreign students", prepared by the National intercultural integration observatory and the Italian Ministry of Education in 2007)
  • The establishment of the new unified Middle school fifty years ago (1962) and Nursery School education (1968)
  • The presence of Full-time schools
  • The experience of organizing quality pre-Nursery and Nursery public schools, the most famous of which is located in the city that will host the Ridef (Reggio Children)

And, outside the strictly educational institutions, we think of,

  • The experience and advanced examples, such as that of Reggio Children with regard to the attention to childhood based on the recognition of diversity as an opportunity for different programming, acknowledging the abilities of everyone
  • Many other experiences, such as CEIS, the Italian-Swiss Educational Center of Rimini
  • Integrated projects between schools and territories (in Pistoia, Turin, Bologna, Venice ...)
  • The international project "The City of boys and girls" of the CNR, which gave impetus to design cities and neighborhoods suitable for boys and girls and to establish forms of representation of children / adolescents in institutions
  • Extra-school educational situations and activities, such as those managed by the CEMEA Centers for Education with the Methods of Active Education or Legambiente or Educational Villages proposed by Casa –Laboratorio of Cenci.

From these good experiences we can start despite in spite of all the difficulties we have to face.

This is the aim of the 30th Ridef: the good educational experiences practiced at school to be effective have to get outside of school, and teachers and educators, reaching beyond the walls of school buildings, could be the architects of a better future for all the world's children.

NOTE (*) Main rights of childhood and adolescence contained in the Convention can be read as many work goals

  1. Right to life, right to health and psycho-affective wellbeing
  2. Right to education, study, instruction (fighting early school leaving and discrimination against girls and adolescents)
  3. Right to a family, a home, a friendly environment and community (projects against the immigrants’ segregation and management of the deterioration of neighborhoods)
  4. Right to protection against discrimination and the different abilities (projects for the promotion of a good school and social inclusion)
  5. Right to protection against abuse (projects against child prostitution - especially female)
  6. Right to protection against exploitation (projects against school dropouts, child labor, poverty)
  7. Right to protection against war (projects to fight such phenomena as the "children soldier,"
  8. Right to their own identity and culture (projects against the marginalization of the Roma, Sinti and immigrants .. ethnic minorities)
  9. Right to expression and to play (projects to create play areas, to counter the individualism and /or loneliness).

Also think of another set of rights universally ignored

  • The right to security (projects to secure cities, towns, villages .. promotion of autonomy of boys / girls, joint projects with their parents to avoid over-protective attitudes)
  • The right of children to be informed (art. 13 and 17);
  • The right to take part in the cultural and artistic life of the territory (Article 31),
  • The right to say their opinion and to be involved in decisions that affect them (Article 12),
  • The right to associate (Article 15)