Students’ Perceptions of Their Rights in School: A Systematic Review of the International Literature

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This review focuses on students’ perceptions of their rights in elementary and secondary schools. The conceptual framework of rights consciousness was applied to understand how students’ knowledge, experiences, and emotions shape their rights perceptions. The analysis is based on 38 empirical studies conducted in different countries. The findings characterize students’ rights perceptions as intuitive—that is, perceptions that are not grounded in legal rules but in students’ personal insights. The findings also identify key factors affecting students’ perceptions: school context, national context, and students’ individual characteristics. The conclusions underscore that school rights-based practices, student body and school staff diversity, and school relationships influence students’ rights consciousness. However, questions remain concerning how students’ perceptions are affected by cultural repertoires, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, and age. The implications are that future studies should apply a context-based agenda to inform the design and implementation of human rights education programs and rights-based organizational practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-957
Number of pages39
JournalReview of Educational Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • children’s rights
  • rights consciousness
  • students’ perceptions
  • students’ rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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