Children, Youth and Development
Children and youth are clearly present in much development research and practice. Yet, how is young people’s position in development conceptualised? Is it conceptualised at all, or are the young mainly targets of interventions and variables in analysis?
A forthcoming collection of articles in the European Journal of Development Research goes someway in answering these questions. It presents the idea of ‘generationing’ development. This requires firstmost adopting a relational approach to studying children and youth in developing contexts. This indeed contrasts with widespread categorising approaches in which children and youth are defined on the basis of chronological age. Such approaches typically amount to a false homogenisation of highly diverse age-based categories and obfuscate important relations connecting young people with other generational grouping.
The relational approach underpinning the papers in the special issue is outlined in the Introductory article entitled ‘Theorising Age and Generation in Development: A relational approach‘. This conceptual work, the authors argue, goes someway towards a better understanding of the interface between development studies and children and youth studies. This is important because these two areas of theory and practice have developed into vibrant bodies of literature. Yet, the theoretical and conceptual work coming from children and youth studies has informed development studies only to a limited degree and vice versa.
The Institute for Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge (Canada) is inviting applications for a Post-doctoral fellowship expected to commence in September 2014. For details, please go HERE.
Since the summer of 2013, the Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn has regularly featured in Dutch national news for the apparently novel introduction of study support for its largely young and school-going work workforce (see HERE, HERE and HERE).
What’s happening here? Since September 2013 some Amsterdam based supermarkets have been offering free study support to their young school-going workers. The support is offered by university students (not trained teachers) on the workfloor (before and/or after work), and to this end a computer and WIFI have been made available to the young workers.
In line with Dutch labour regulations, Albert Heijn, like other Dutch retailers, employs teenagers starting from 15 years of age. Dutch minimum wages are age-based; the younger the worker the lower the minimum age till the age of 23 is reached. Young workers are further attractive for the flexible nature that characterises the comtemporary organisation of labour in the Dutch retail sector.
According to acclaimed supermarket expert Gerard Rutte, the introduction of study support to the workfloor might have less to do with a concern on part of Albert Heijn with the study performance of their young workers, and more with expanding the market share in the highly competitive Dutch retail sector. By offering study support, Albert Heijn hopes to increase the loyalty among its young workers as well as its quality. Albert Heijn thus expands the boundaries of competitiveness beyond the branding and pricing of its products to include the service quality of its young workforce.
Whether this will positively affect Albert Heijn’s market share will be hard to tell. At any rate however, this novel strategy generated some free, nationwide publicity for the supermarket chain (and yes, this blog posting contributes to this too…)
posted by Roy Huijsmans
Children & Youth Studies students from the Social Policy for Development and Social Justice Perspectives majors took a study visit to the Hague Conference on Private International Law on Friday, 7 February. The Hague Conference is the oldest international organization in The Hague (established in 1893), and the only one with a legislative function, which is to work toward the “progressive unification of the rules of private international law”. This means creating and enforcing conventions that address legal problems arising between individuals and companies in situations that concern more than one State.
• 1980 Child Abduction Convention
• 1993 Intercountry Adoption Convention
• 1996 Child Protection Convention
• 2007 Child Support Convention and Protocol
Hague Conference legal officers generously gave of their time to discuss the contents, promulgation, and implementation processes of these international treaties, most of which draw their mandate from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They discussed the challenges of universal implementation with ISS students, noting in particular their efforts to bring more African states on board. Currently, only 5 African countries are member states.
Irene Nyamu, a Social Policy for Development student from Kenya, said, “The visit to Hague Conference was a great eye opener for me as a child rights and protection activist… I gained a perspective on the value the Hague Conference has on overall social policy.
Kenya [has] ratified the 1993 Convention on Intercountry Adoption… I now fully understand what this means, how it is connected to the UNCRC, and the fact that inter-country adoption is much more regulated in Kenya.”
The Hague Conference regularly holds Special Commissions for each Convention. For example, the next Special Commission of the 1993 Intercountry Adoption Convention is scheduled for 2015. The Hague Conference is also working on a report based on survey information gathered from member States in regards to international surrogacy arrangements. Based on that report, member States will determine whether to promulgate a new Convention on international surrogacy.
To help inform both processes, ISS will be hosting an invitational international forum on intercountry adoption and global surrogacy to bring together experts – scholars, policymakers, and activists – from around the world. The forum, to be held in August, will produce reports of the proceedings that may then be used by the Hague Conference to strengthen implementation of their conventions on adoption and surrogacy.
Posted by Kristen Cheney
Photo credits: Yenutien Kombian
While the theoretical framework for creating and disseminating knowledge through active multi-directional process of collaboration is very advanced, in practice, very few educational institutions can apply those concepts in their modus operandi. Most part of the institutions still maintain the mono-direction process of teaching-learning creating a gap between personal experiences in the real life and educational experiences in the closed environment of the educational institution.
However, in the International Institute of Social Studies, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a truly modern, collaborative, multidirectional process of learning. The role-play game about child labour and international regulations of the ILO, part of MA course 4235 – Young People and Work: Theory, Practice and Policy, has given us the opportunity to really go deep in the theme. The participatory atmosphere has fostered extra research, real teamwork and many informal debates outside of the class.
The role-play was scripted on an actual event: the ILO Global Child Labour Conference that took place in The Hague in 2010. I was assigned the representative of the United States government. This means that I had to go in favour of Convention ILO 182 and against Convention ILO 138, because the US has signed the former, but not the latter. In order to better construct an understanding of the US position, I searched for speeches, quotes and texts related to the US participation in the International arena. Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s speech in the end of ILO 2010 Conference gave me the direction to follow.
My preparatory work made me realize that the US doesn’t see child work as a problem by itself. They clearly distinguish between child labour and child work. While the first one is seen as damaging children’s development the second one is considered fostering this development given them extra abilities. So far, my role seemed to develop confortably. Yet, things complicated when one of my peers in the role of the representative of ILO raised over email the issue of children’s work in the American agriculture. With just one day left till the final role-play I was forced to prepare a convincing response and well past midnight I started to search everything that I could about child labour in the American agriculture.
This research showed that the Gaps in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were notorious, mainly because the federal government didn’t regulated it, leaving it to the states. The consequences were very different laws and a big fragility to the protection of children. As representative of the US, I could not acknowledge this reality yet I had to give an answer to the questioning of the ILO representative. Therefore I decided to attack the epistemology of the video used to present the claim of child labour in US farms. At 4:00am, I submitted the US answer to the problem of children labour in American agriculture.
Another important part of the strategy that I developed was the World Bank report about child labour. This was important, because ILO clearly was defending the elimination of all forms of child work based in ILO Convention 138. This position was against the interests of the US Government. The report of the World Bank gave me the opportunity to oppose ILO position to the position of another International Organization putting the US Government in a more confortable situation.
In conclusion, the experience with the role-play game was great; the consolidation of knowledge is evident. Moreover, Professors Roy Huijsmans and Karin Siegmann were able to make us develop the knowledge in a much more constructive way. The evident success of the methodology makes me think that it should be used more often and expanded to other courses and other institutions.
guest-contribution by Paulo Guerra (participant in the ISS MA programme 2013-14)
Category: youth28 Jan 2014
Are ‘business solutions’ the answer to youth unemployment?
Till recently this was a small bank office, located in a neighbourhood at some distance from the city centre. Now only an ATM remains. Whilst withdrawing cash a message flashes on the screen: €10,000 prize money for solutions tackling youth unemployment in the Hague.
There is more than a twist of irony here, asking the public to come up with ‘business solutions’ to tackle youth unemployment whilst the banking business itself is closing its offices and increasingly offers its service in an electronic, rather than personal form.
What is all this about? ChallengeDenHaag is an online platform where, in the fashion of Web 2.0 and ‘crowdsourcing’, ordinary people and communities are invited to get involved in the ‘co-creation’ of business solutions for tackling societal problems in the Hague municipality. One such problem is ‘youth unemployment’ (youth aged 16-26). The local counter stood at 3,314 unemployed youth in January 2013, a nearly 50% increase from January 2012 when the figure stood at 2,240 and it is expected to have increased further over the past year.
Behind this initiative is a so-called ‘public-private partnership’. This is composed of Enviu, a company that is in the business of social enterprising specialised in ‘starting impact-driven communities and companies’. The Municipality of the Hague and the ‘Haagse Hogeschool‘ an educational institute providing higher education. Fonds 1818 a capital fund supporting ‘social projects’ in the Hague region. Xtra a the Hague based umbrella organisation that coordinates and provides services in ‘welfare work’ across the municipality in a range of domains, and lastly the Rabobank, a commercial bank.
Any contending proposals will be assessed by a Jury (composed of representative of the partnering organisations) based on the following criteria:
-Innovation and creativity
-Societal impact, improving the position of youth on the labour market
-Participation, whether the ‘target group’ has been involved in the development and design of the proposal
-Based on social entrepreneurship principles (profit, people, planet)
-The proposal focuses on the Hague region (and must not go beyond it)
-Desired quality: eco-sustainability
-Proposals may be submitted by existing companies (annual revenue: < €500,000), preferable starting companies
Whether any of the proposals coming out of this competition will do much to address youth unemployment time will tell. What seems clear however is that this initiative constitutes an excellent case to analyse the shifting and inter-connecting roles and responsibilities of (local) government, business and civil society in addressing societal issues.
posted by Roy Huijsmans
A total number of nearly 5,000 visits were recorded, out of which just over 3,000 were unique visits. Whilst this may mean little in the world of Google, most conventional academic publications never reach such audiences.
As the map above shows, the audience of the Children and Youth Studies blog is truly international with visits from a total of 125 countries. Peaking the list of cities from where the site was accessed is, not surprisingly, the Hague where the Institute of Social Studies is located – the physical base behind this site.
1. The Hague
7. Addis Ababa
10. Da Nang
With Delhi and Toronto coming second and third on the list, and with Addis Ababa, Bogota, Mumbai and Da Nang completing the top 10 we are glad to see that we have a strong audience beyond the physical home of the ISS and we hope to expand this further in 2014.
CYS alumni John Kielty alerted us to an upcoming themed issue of iAM eMagazine of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation entitled ‘State of the World’s Youth’. Contributions were sought on issues including ‘youth unemployment’, ‘youth migration’, ‘education’, ‘maternal health’, and ‘disability and accessibility’, and could take the form of audio, video, art as well written work.
Tanks are rolling into Bangkok, a military coup in the making or the usual ‘innocent fun’ for Thailand’s children’s day?
Max Fisher claims in the Washington Post that ‘Thailand has had more coups than any other country’. In this historical light, seeing heavy military equipment rolling into Bangkok, quite understandably, has fuelled rumours about yet another military coup in the making even more so because the city for the past few weeks has been the stage of large scale street protests seeking to oust PM Yingluck and calling for a boycot of the upcoming elections (see HERE and HERE).
Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Army has ‘instructed the public not to panic‘ about the movement of military equipment, even though General Prayuth Chan-ocha has failed to rule out a military coup. It is not any coup plan, the Royal Thai Army claims, that causes this military activity, but the upcoming Thai children’s day which is celebrated annually on the second Saturday of January. As the picture from the Nation above illustrates and is explained in Khaosod: one of the highlights of children’s day in Thailand is ”the display of military hardware, in which children are invited to ride on tanks or jet fighters’.
Perhaps more so than any other profession, armies the world over have always keenly promoted their trade among the young especially. Often through the showcasing, virtually and actually, of heavy military equipment (see for example the Dutch Defence forces). The constant effort of securing the generational renewal of armed forces also underpins ongoing debates about, and creative interpretation of (see the UK case), the issue of minimum age of recruitment in armed forces (put at 15 years in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Article 38.3).
It is interesting to see how in the denial of any coup connections with the increased presence of military equipment in Bangkok, by referring to children’s day, the Royal Thai Army effectively constructs its participation in Thailand’s children’s day as innocent and unpolitical – something appears unchallenged by the main media reporting on it.
posted by Roy Huijsmans
5-6 December 2013, colleagues at the University of Vechta, Germany organised an international conference on Childhood and Migration: Gendered and generational perspectives. The conference touched upon many forms and dimensions of children’s involvement in migration, both historically and contemporary, indicating that the theme of ‘children, childhood and migration’ has over the past decade rapidly developed into a vibrant and diverse research area.
Two ISS faculty were among the presenters. Kristen Cheney delivered a paper entitled Aids Orphanhood and the Transformation of Kinship, Fosterage, and Children’s Circulation Strategies in Uganda. Roy Huijsmans presented a paper entitled Children, Childhood and Migration: Some critical thoughts. Here is the abstract:
Limiting myself to the development literature, I first ask why it is that the issue of ‘independent child migration’ emerged as a specific field in the early 2000s even though the phenomenon itself was hardly new. I concur that its original concern was a critique to the hegemony of the child trafficking discourse, with trafficking understood as a form of boundary management within development studies’ ‘migration turn’ working to construct ‘bad’ forms and categories of mobility as separate from ‘good’ forms/categories of migration.
The ‘independent child migration’ research agenda that thus emerged may be summarised as: demonstrating young migrants’ as actors in migration; highlighting that staying is often not a desirable option’; deconstructing the trafficking discourse; and reconstruction the phenomenon of mobile children as a migration issue with exploitation instead of children’s mobility as the target for intervention. Although this research agenda generated some important insights and has affected interventions, I argue that after a decade this research agenda is in need of reflection.
Here I limit myself to three points. First, the phrase ‘independent child migration’ effectively amounted to a further compartmentalisation of migration (despite this being a point of critique in general migration studies). Such a categorising approach tends to hinder rather than deepen a situated understanding of young people in migration. The latter would require attending to relational dimensions, by for example concentrating on the role of ‘migration networks’ and the role of various conceptualisations of age shaping young people’s inclusion in the migratory landscape. Second, a relational approach is necessary for moving away from an exclusive concern with ‘critique’ based on deconstruction-based analyses towards constructive analyses that would ask how young people’s migrations shed light on broader questions in children and youth studies. This would include debates on: life course dynamics, young people and state, transnationalism, global householding, etc. Thirdly, the focus on ‘independent child migration’ has kept out of focus the largest group affected by migration: those that are not (yet) moving. A focus on the young offers much scope for teasing out the interrelation between staying and moving in migration research.
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