» Archive for: November, 2014

downloadThe Centre for Children’s Rights Studies at the University of Geneva advertises two funded PhD positions part of a Swiss National Science Foundation sponsored interdisciplinary research project on child labour and working children’s rights.

The first vacancy concerns a study of the opinions of working children and their organizations, and implies field work with working children in Senegal and in other West African countries.

The second vacancy concerns a study of the discourses around claims made by working children to recognize their right to work in dignity, and involves a detailed analysis of policy and legal documents on child labour.

Overall, the project’s major focus is described as concerned with ‘how opinions of working children on their rights circulate in the space between local and international understandings of children’s rights’.


PhD scholarship

Category: Uncategorized

28 Nov 2014

downloadGlasgow Caledonian University calls for applications for a full-time PhD scholarship in a project entitled ‘Boys’ Toys’ and ‘Girls’ Toys’: Learning through play?.

The project is located at the Institute for Society and Social Justice Research (ISSJR), which is part of the Glasgow School for Business and Society.

The research project is described as follows:

With the resurgence of targeted marketing of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ toys there has been concern that boys and girls are being channelled into restrictive gender specific play. The Curriculum for Excellence focuses much attention on the importance of learning through play and the Caledonian Club at GCU prioritises early intervention as a means for raising children’s own expectations. This PhD seeks to examine whether there are any links between children’s play, the gendered marketing of toys and their own expectations for the future. The scope of the PhD would be developed by the successful candidate and the supervisory team but we anticipate some of the following areas may be incorporated:

  • The impact of play on children? How do children learn through play?
  • Children’s own perspectives of toys
  • Can gender specific toys impact on children’s own expectations of self? What do toys teach children about gender?
  • The importance of early intervention in raising expectations and ambition at an earlier age
  • Adults’ roles in challenging or perpetuating gender expectations through toys, games and wider play
  • Developing innovative methods or working with children to answer the research questions

Further details on the scholarship (application deadline is 19 December) can be found HERE and HERE.

This PhD position connects to an earlier post on gender, toys, business and play (see HERE), and is nicely contrasted with this ONE.

posted by Roy Huijsmans



‘Empowering Children and Young People through Technology’ was the theme of Child Helpline International’s 7th International Consultation  that took place in London from 29th-31st October 2014

According to the 2014 report by the global child helpline network-Child Helpline International (CHI), between 2012-2013 alone, over 28 million children contacted child helplines and hotlines in different parts of the world. It further reports that:

The majority of these contacts were recorded at child helplines in Europe (41%), followed by Asia Pacific (32%), Africa (17%), Americas and Caribbean (5%), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (5%). Children and young people who contacted child helplines were between 10 – 17 years of age. The majority of contacts were made over the telephone. (p.6)

Whilst the majority of contacts were made over the telephone, this is likely to change in the future. Hence, child-friendly helplines offer a diverse range of communication options for young people between the ages of 5-25 years including web-based chats, short text messages (SMS), voice calls, letters through the free post as well as direct physical contact with social workers and volunteers.

CHI is a global network of 175 child helplines across 143 countries (2013 data). It seeks to support the ‘creation and strengthening of national free of cost child helplines around the world’ whilst also using ‘child helpline data and knowledge to highlight gaps in child protection systems and advocate for the rights of children’ (p. 48) Despite these efforts, it is estimated that the current helplines can only respond to 50% of all the contacts children make. This means that about half of the contacts made by children remain unanswered because of limited human and material resource-capacity of helplines.  In addition, millions of children are still unable to access child helplines altogether. Expenses are an important factor here. It is for this reason that conference delegates called on ICT companies and states to make all contacts by children to helplines and hotlines free.  Delegates included representatives of;

  • communication companies such as British Telecoms (BT), GSMA network which represents  interests of over 250 mobile phone companies and 800 telephone operators
  • UN  agencies (UNICEF ), regional bodies  like the African Union, League of Arab States and the European Union (EU), government  representatives and special rapporteurs like Mrs. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio (Netherlands) who is the special  rapporteur  on sale of children
  • A mixed group of old and newly established  child helplines  including NSPCC- UK who were also the hosts, Childline Kenya,  Missing Children Europe, Palestinian Helpline SAWA, as well as those with high end as well as more traditional technologies

With support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and regional bodies like African Union and the EU, national telecommunication regulators have issued unified, easy to remember service numbers for child helplines (116111 for Europe, 116 for Africa, 1098 for Asia). Some telecommunication companies like Telefonica of Spain have also supported operations of child helplines for years as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However, these remain geographically isolated actions compared to the growing demand for services to children. There is need to make services absolutely free and accessible on a universal scale. Delegates argued that this will remove an important financial barrier in service access, and contribute to fighting violence against children, making it an important step towards realising Child Helplines International aim of making sure that every child’s voice is being heard.

This campaign looks promising. Already, GSMA has signed an agreement with CHI to promote the work of child helplines among its members, this commitment was made public on 20th November 2014 during the UN celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in New York last week.

Guest contribution by Irene Nyamu  (ISS MA programme ‘Social Policy for Development’, and one of the conference delegates as she was actively involved in establishing a functional 24 hours helpline in Kenya in 2006. Irene also served as a CHI Advisory Board member 2010-2012 representing helplines within the African region)


Schooling Nationalism

Category: education

24 Nov 2014

imagesMass-schooling has long been recognised as an important technique of nation-building. Indeed, Marie Lall notes in her introduction to Education as a Political Tool in Asia that ‘governments have long used education and the school curriculum amongst other vehicles for disseminating political ideology with a view to transforming societies and subjecting them to more effective state control’ (p. 1).

General Prayuth Chan-o-cha adds another chapter to this theme now that his ‘12 core values of the Thai people‘ have been included into textbooks by the Thai Ministry of Education. General Prayuth is the former commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army who launched a successful military coup against the Thai government in May 2014, despite his earlier claim of neutrality of the army in the Thai conflict (see HERE), and has meanwhile been appointed as the new prime-minister of Thailand.

The Chiangrai Times  refers to the chief of the Thai Office of the Basic Education Commision who explains that ‘students at all levels will be required to recite the ’12 core values of the Thai people’ either as part of their daily flag-raising ceremony or in class’. It also lists the ’12 core values’:

1. Upholding the nation, the religions and the Monarchy, which is the key institution
2. Being honest, sacrificial and patient with positive attitude for the common good of the public
3. Being grateful to the parents, guardians and teachers
4. Seeking knowledge and education directly and indirectly
5. Treasuring the precious Thai tradition
6. Maintaining moral, integrity, well-wishes upon others as well as being generous and sharing
7. Understanding, learning the true essence of democratic ideals with His Majesty the King as the Head of State
8. Maintaining discipline, respectful of laws and the elderly and seniority
9. Being conscious and mindful of action in line with His Majesty’s the King’s statements
10. Practicing the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy of His Majesty the King. Saving money for time of need. Being moderate with surplus used for sharing or expansion of business while having good immunity
11. Maintaining both physical and mental health and unyielding to the dark force or desires, having sense of shame over guilt and sins in accordance with the religious principles
12. Putting the public and national interest before personal interest.

posted by Roy Huijsmans




indexA recent article in Children’s Geographies sheds light on an actor seldom studied in work on children’s domestic employment: their employers.

One of the tenets of the so-called new sociology of childhood was the appreciation of children as social actors. Coupled with the ‘participation’ rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child this has contributed to a real shift in research on children. Children may for long have been objects of research, this is no long the case. There is now a wealth of material in which children, as subjects, are the central focus of research.

At times however, this child-centred research has become child-only research thereby losing sight of important other actors shaping children’s lives. Children’s domestic work is the case in point. Despite a growing body of research on children as domestic workers we know relatively little about the adults employing them (but note Raya Muttarak’s work in Thailand).

In a recent article in the journal Children’s Geographies Natascha Klocker contributes an important corrective to this picture. Her piece is entitled ‘Struggling with child domestic work: what can a postcolonial perspective offer?‘ By employing a postcolonial perspective, Klocker seeks to ‘expose the hegemony of Minority World knowledge systems and their neocolonial imposition on Majority World lives, issues and spaces’ (p465). In relation to the issue of child domestic work this means for Klocker 1) giving voice to those that have been silenced by Minority World knowledge systems. This includes child domestic workers themselves, but also their employers. 2) Critiquing the suggestion that Majority World children need rescuing from their adult compatriots as much NGO discourse implies. 3) Finding scope to go ‘beyond discourses of exploitation formulated around western economic theories and notions of appropriate employment arrangements, to the potential for ethics of care and more-than-economic relationships in children’s working lives’ (p466), 4) emphasising the West’s complicity in the conditions experienced by many in the Majority World.

In the pages that follow Klocker gives a rich overview of how employers of child domestic workers look at the arrangement and their experiences with and perceptions of child domestic workers. She does so on the basis of interview work with a total of 75 employers of child domestic workers in Tanzania. Importantly, the interviews were conducted by a team of Tanzanian researchers, including some former child domestic workers, in order to avoid the likely bias in responses generated by the presence of a foreign researcher.

The qualitative material works to nuance stereotypical images of employers of child domestic workers. Certainly, some are abusive and exploit their young workers, yet this does not appear to be a universal picture. Such research, Klocker points out, contributes to further decolonising our understanding of children’s domestic employment. Moreover, it may also be of strategic relevance. Many employers agreed that more must be done to improve the living and working conditions of child domestic workers – perhaps working with employers offers more scope for realising this aim than working against them.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

International Institute of Social Studies

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