» Archive for: October, 2013

Alumni Update

Category: Uncategorized

28 Oct 2013


Shirin Tejani took the 10.5-week intensive ‘Children, Youth and Development‘ post-graduate diploma course in 2012. Following graduation she got the post of Research Associate with the Centre for Research and Experiments for Action and Policy (REAP) under the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), state Government of Haryana (India). Prior to this, she was teaching at the Symbiosis School of Economics, and has extensive research experience in India. She has also been volunteering with the Aga Khan Education Service, India (AKESI) for over 14 years, and since the completion of her Diploma at ISS, serves on the Board of Trustees of Fidai Institutions.

At REAP she is involved in two projects. The first of these is an impact evaluation of a pilot teacher-training programme for government primary schools in the State, while in the second, she is designing and implementing a pilot reading initiative for students of government senior secondary and high schools in two districts.

The work involves research methodology design using randomised evaluations, budgeting, surveying, and extensive collaboration with Action Research Associates at the District-level Institutes of Education and Training in Haryana state, as well as collaborations with academic researchers and education-oriented NGOs from across the world.

The most challenging part of her work involves co-functioning with government educators while also devising programmes to alter a chronic system and attitudes; as well as reducing the gap in learning outcomes between children attending government schools (usually from disadvantaged economic backgrounds) and those attending private schools (usually economically better-off). This task is even more crucial in the light of increasing economic inequalities led by the State’s ongoing economic boom.

Shirin is thoroughly enjoying the work and the learning experience that it provides.






Attending an event organized by Girl Hub Ethiopia earlier this week, I realized that despite my long experience working with youth I have seldom seen a program that has mobilized such a large crowd of “real Youth”.

What I call “ real youth”, in simple terms, are those youth who demonstrate the prevailing youth culture in their behavior and practice, no matter what their background may be and the circumstance they find themselves. In most cases, these are young people in their teens or early twenties.  Yet, in many of the youth programs I have had the opportunity to get involved in or visited  I have observed a very different group of ‘youth’. These ‘youth’ demonstrate adjusted behavior and practice which they think legitimizes their participation in the program. They are mostly young adults and they seem to think their being unemployed or being single qualifies them as youth. Unfortunately most programs designed for young people are dominated by the latter group and they define the research and program agenda. I think it is partly because of their dominance that we don’t usually see “real youth “ in many of the programs.

The Event

The event I referred to above was organized by Girl Hub Ethiopia (GH). Girl Hub is a joint DFID and NIKE foundation initiative based on the “ The Girl Effect” principle. In Africa, GH is being implemented in Rwanda, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

The brand of the communication and publicity component of GH Ethiopia is called “ YEGNA”. This means “ Our Voice”  and has been launched and popularized through the music video ABET EZIH BET.  YEGNA employs a very aggressive media campaign. As one newspaper (the Addis Fortune) puts it: “The pamphlets are colorful and the marketing campaign is unlike any Ethiopia has ever seen before. The streets of Addis are now home to flyers, posters and billboards, grabbing the attention of residents. The message is simple –“When you hear us; you will see us”.

The communication approach most of the youth programs I know give too much emphasis to the message (content)  and not much attention for the medium and style of communication . What I learnt from GH is that in order to effectively communicate and connect with youth, programs need to consider that the medium/style of communication is as important as the message/ content itself. I think that is why the GH program managed to attract such large crowd of “real youth” which I don’t usually see in many other ‘youth’ events.

To be sure, GH is not flawless though. There is much concern about its aggressive publicity campaign which is based on a “Nike way” approach which is said to disrupt local cultures. In addition, there are concerns about its ‘effectiveness’. For example, the independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) rated (see HERE) the Girl Hub overall program as “Amber Red” which means the program meets some of the criteria for effectiveness and value for money but is overall not performing well.

by Yohannes Teklu, ISS alumni 2003-04, Population & Development


Category: Uncategorized

15 Oct 2013

download (1)The 2011 issue of Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, an independent peer-reviewed online journal, is themed ‘becoming-girl’ and contains a number of thought-provoking articles about the ‘target’ of so many development interventions: ‘the girl child’.

‘The girl child’ has become increasingly visible in the development landscape. For several years now, PLAN International has been running the ‘Because I’m a Girl‘ global campaign, and since 2007 it has published an annual ‘State of the World’s Girl’s’ report (the latest, 2013, report is HERE). Furthermore, some days ago (11th October, 2013) the second United Nations’ ‘International Day of the Girl Child‘ was pronounced, following a resolution (Resolution 66/170) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011.

To be sure, this focus on ‘the girl child’, is not just about girls. Instead, ‘the girl child’ is framed as a highly productive development site yielding a whole range of development bonuses.  According to Resolution 66/170:

Recognizing that empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community,

And a similar line of reasoning transpires from the 2013 State of the World’s Girls report (p9)

Girls are both uniquely vulnerable and uniquely powerful. They may lack the most basic skills to cope with a crisis, like the ability to swim, or even run, or to get the information they need and to express their opinions. They can be forced into making poor and ill-informed decisions that affect them for the rest of their lives, like early marriage or transactional sex. Girls also have the power to transform not only their own lives, but also those of their families and communities. If they stay in school and understand how to protect their rights and choose what to do with their bodies, they earn more, they marry later, they have healthier children and become leaders, entrepreneurs and advocates.

Despite all this attention, some core, underpinning questions about ‘the girl child’ typically remain unaddressed (or rather: unpronounced). This is where Monica Swindle’s article ‘Feeling Girl, Girling Feeling‘ makes an interesting read. Starting  with a conversation with a five year old girl triggered by the question ‘what is a girl’, she discusses three constituting elements to this seemingly straight-forward, yet deeply complex question: ‘what are girls’, ‘what is girl culture’, and ‘what is girl’.

Of particular interest from a development studies perspective is Marjaana Jauhola’s article entitled ”The Girl Child of Today in the Woman of Tomorrow’: Fantasizing the adolescent girl as the future hope in post-tsunami reconstruction efforts in Aceh, Indonesia‘. In this article, she analyses the Oxfam International’s mini radio drama ‘Women can do it too!’ that was broadcasted in 2006-07 in local radio stations in areas affected by the 2004 tsunami in Aceh. She approaches this radio drama as ‘technology of the aid-and-development-planning governmentality’, marking the ‘normative conceptualisation of time and space’ that underpins the radio drama and which is also characteristic of many other ‘girl child’ development interventions. She elaborates:

…normative time appears also as the normalised rhythm of daily life, and the life cycle. The radio drama establishes several normative narratives of the rhythm of adolescent girls’ lives: attending school; preparing for the national examinations; finishing school first and only then getting married; having two children. Ultimately, adolescent girls are seen as future mothers who have an employment outside of home (Muhammad 2002, 3).’

Such development interventions, Jauhola notes, thus, effectively project children into a heteronormative future, based on the assumption that childhood is essentially heterosexually determined and implicitly increases “the pressure on producing the proper ending of the story” (Bruhm and Hurley 2004, xiv). Nonetheless, such gender advocacies are seldom fully stable and fully closed and are often also sites of ‘constant negotiation of norms’, which Jauhola brings forth through her subversive reading of the radio drama.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


Alumni Hilton Nyamukapa has been busy since getting his CYS degree at ISS in 2011. As Child Protection Outreach Officer for Streets Ahead Welfare Organisation in Zimbabwe, Hilton has worked on behalf of children living and laboring on the streets of Harare, managing the drop-in center and supervising such activities as life skills training and counseling. He has also been monitoring and evaluating the center’s child protection interventions as well as aligning the organisation’s programs with government policies.
Hilton says his MA program at ISS helped prepare him to step into these roles: “Specialising in Children and Youth Studies helped me to comprehensively understand  the policy and problem areas surrounding children and youth  in a broad social context of globalisation, poverty and conflict. A close analytical approach towards key challenging issues such as education, work, health, sexuality, violence and abuse has helped me further understand the multi-dimensionality and interrelationships among vulnerabilities facing Zimbabwe’s young people. The specialization’s  particular consideration of cross-cutting issues such as vulnerability, resilience, exclusion, agency and participation has been instrumental in helping me identify and formulate custom and targeted interventions that are responsive and transformative within my entire working environment.”
Not wanting to stop there, Hilton has sought even further education in short courses such as a Research Ethics Course (UNICEF and Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe) in 2012 and a Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation course (Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University, Netherlands) in 2013. Hilton has also been accepted to the PhD program at Canterbury University in New Zealand. He hopes to begin his proposed research on “Revisiting Policy, Standards, and Practice: Building a Comprehensive Approach to Care and Protection of Unaccompanied Children in Zimbabwe” in January 2014.

Hilton (3rd from left) working with youth at the drop-in center

Hilton (3rd from left) working with youth at the drop-in center



HREA announces two fellowships within its Children’s Rights, Child Development, Participation and Protection Programme for 2014 (native Portuguese speaker is a requirement).

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international NGO that is head-quartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Its core activities are human rights education and awareness. The responsibilities of the fellow will include:

  • conduct research on children’s rights to support existing and future programming;
  • identify education and training resources in Portuguese;
  • teach and co-teach e-learning courses in Portuguese and English;
  • contribute to the development and facilitation of face-to-face training workshops;
  • contribute to the development and facilitation of HREA’s Community of Practice on children’s rights.

The application deadline is 15 November, 2013. Further information can be found HERE.

International Institute of Social Studies

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.