I left for Uganda in 1996 with two issues I wanted to consider: One, people's comprehension of children's rights; and two, children's perspective of their daily life. As Redd Barna had been working in this particular area of Uganda since the early 1990's I had heard that almost everybody knew about children's rights - or eddembe ly'abaana in Luganda (a translation which literally could mean, and often understood as children's freedom or liberty, and even children's peace). Now, when sumarizing the thesis, an overall perspective has emerged, namely people's pragmatic approach to life. I see that due to children's constrained situation, their lives are more about "doing" than "being". It is about security more than certainty. This pragmatic approach has an impact on how people perceive the Convention on the Rights of the Child too.
To get an understanding of how people understand children's rights in Uganda I focused on children's participation in daily life at home, at school and in the village life. I soon discovered that the topic of children's duties and responsibility was quite an issue. The constrained societies in this area of Uganda, due to the social consequences of AIDS and changes in family life, are demanding an increase in children's participation in various areas. I met children who were heading their home, as their parents were both dead; I met children who worked for money to pay their own school-fees; I met children who were rejected from going to school due to too much work back home. Hence, child work or labour became one important perspective in searching for people's comprehension of children's rights.
Other theoretical aspects considered about, were perspectives of body according to corporal punishment and bodily practices, and power, discipline and resistance as in the relationship between children and adults. That children and childhood are social and cultural constructions, I do take for granted. Hence, an interesting notion is to see the number of different childhoods experienced in Uganda. Poverty and development, urban and rural settlement, fortune and misfortune in a constrained society, are all elements which make essential differences in children's lives - differences even within the same family.
The voices from the children have been a major impact in the process of understanding their lives with duties and rights. Lubega, a boy in primary 2, said: "I don't understand why my parents are caning me when they are the ones who brought me to the world". This indicates one way of thinking in children's relationship to adults.
The last chaper concludes that peoples's comprehension of children's rights have to be distinguished between the content and the concept of the convention. The former refers to the actual outcome of children's rights. This most of the people are positive to, whereas the latter refers to the idea of empowering children. This most of the people are negative to. However, as they are taking a pragmatic approach to life, strong and empowered children are exactly what many adults rely on, because of poverty and the need for children's participation. This gives strength to the children, but at the same time it challenges aspects of children's rights.
An old man's notion about children's rights indicates the pragmatic approach to the issue: "We don't like these children's rights as they destroy our obedient children; however, because Redd Barna have done so many good things here so we accept it!"