Douglas Springate

Retired from the University of Greenwich, had teaching experience in primary and secondary schools and has been a teacher trainer for the primary age phase for more than thirty years, lecturing in four institutions, including an American university.  

I am a retired primary teacher trainer in England who has been interested in giving children a voice throughout my teaching and lecturing career. I have trained many young people as researchers and have been involved in this work both here in England and in many other European countries. This included setting up a major EU project involving seven countries focusing on primary aged children doing research.     
I have always felt this is so important because children’s own perspectives on their lives are largely absent and our understanding of childhood would be enriched if child perspectives were included. Most research about children is done on them by adults or in a few cases with them lead by adults. Training young children in research techniques gives them the skills to do their own research and thereby throw new light on their lives in which of course they are the experts.                                          
A major issue for children doing research is that of dissemination, of getting change agents and those responsible for making decisions about children’s lives to listen to their research and then make changes to lives and environments of children. Too often the children’s work does not reach the desks of those adults who would best gain from it and if it is read no action follows.                       
It was therefore a revelation to me when I was first exposed to the work of CWC. Initially I met P.J. Lolichen at a Conference in England in 2007 in his role as leader of the Centre for Applied Research and Documentation at CWC. His presentation showed me that not only had CWC been actively training many children as researchers but that the children had then achieved some extensive research exercises which local politicians in Karnataka had listened to and acted on. Further the children had developed an involvement in each local ward and district presenting their own ideas which were incorporated into the 10th National Five Year Plan. The voice of the child is not only heard but responded to. The region of India that CWC is situated in has much to teach the world about children’s voice and participation.                                                                    
Since my initial contact with CWC I have endeavored to give them a platform to share their work and have disseminated it myself wherever possible. They have therefore been able to link to those I know in England and elsewhere who are involved in children’ voice and especially children as researchers. I have also tried to get sponsorship for them. It was a great experience for me when I and my partner were able to visit CWC in Bangalore and spend time in their school in Namma Bhoomi meeting some of the young researchers. This simply reinforced my admiration for all they do and my determination to continue to support them in whatever way I can.

Keep up the excellent work CWC.