» Archive for category: ‘CYS specialisation

Maki Suyama from Japan (CYS, 2011) recently completed a 3-year post working for UNICEF Ethiopia’s Research, Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation section as a Programme Officer in Addis Ababa. Her duties included drafting fact sheets, policy briefs and evaluations of UNICEF’s work in children’s rights advocacy. She also assisted in efforts to improve the quality of the evaluation, research, and government cooperation.

Maki says,

“What I liked about my job with UNICEF was trying to improve the quality of the programme in the scientifically proven way. As a member of the Research Committee, I assisted in revisions to the Terms of Reference. The Research Committee process is very similar to the RP draft seminars at ISS, so my experience at ISS helped me to improve the quality of UNICEF’s work.

Maki PhotoOverall, my job required academic knowledge (e.g. how to develop a research question, how to write methods in the report, how to write policy briefs, etc.), so my experience at ISS was really relevant to my job. Moreover, to recognize different discourses about children is very helpful when I attend meetings or review internal/external reports, because I can understand each stakeholder’s position. So I can say that the knowledge from CYS classes was incredibly useful for my job.

When I got my MA, I believed I was free from reading. But in reality, I had to read more documents than I did at ISS to develop my ability to progress in my job. This is not what I expected, but I enjoyed it.”

If you are an alumna/alumnus of an ISS CYS program who would like to share what you’ve been up to with the CYS community, please contact Kristen Cheney at cheney@iss.nl

In commemoration of the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child today, October 11, the ISS Children and Youth Studies Interest Group is launching a series of events to celebrate the power of the adolescent girl. This theme ties in to the general targets of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Through this initiative we hope to unveil the status of the girl child and highlight the challenges they face to realize their potential. As one of our main activities, we will produce a short film and a photo exhibition about what it means to be an adolescent in today’s society.
Here is a little teaser to get you excited. Stay tuned to the ISS Children & Youth Interest Group page (https://www.facebook.com/issycsinterestgroup?fref=nf) for more information about how you can participate and share your story with us!12162400_10153248399078262_342684278_o



A new special issue of the journal Global Studies of Childhood on ‘Children and young people in times of conflict and change: Child rights in the Middle East and North Africa’ has just been released. The special issue, which is the culmination of a TEMPUS-funded project in which several European universities with programs in children’s rights – including ISS – collaborated with four universities in Jordan and Egypt to develop a diploma program in Public Policy and Child Rights. ISS faculty member Kristen Cheney was involved in the project, and she also served as co-editor of the special issue with Debbie Watson of Bristol University and Heba Raouf Ezzat of Cairo University.



The special issue includes an article by ISS alumna Hind Farahat and Cheney. Entitled “A facade of democracy: Negotiating the rights of orphans in Jordan”, the piece draws on data and findings from Farahat’s MA research to argue that Jordanian orphans’ direct action during the Arab Spring did not yield its expected results due to the persistently patriarchal social and legal constrictions of their citizenship in Jordan.

Farahat graduated from ISS with a degree in Social Policy for Development and a specialization in Children & Youth Studies in 2013. She currently works as a program development officer for TechTribes as well as director of child and youth programs for the Ecumenical Studies Center in Amman.

You can view the full table of contents for the special issue on the Global Studies of Childhood website.

IMG_3816 - Version 2Guest post by Tamara Megaw, a current student in the ISS Child & Youth Studies in Development Context course and a Social Policy for Development major, responding to a visit to Porta Futuro employment project as part of the recent study trip to Rome, Italy 

On 13 February 2015, ISS Social Policy for Development students attended a panel discussion with the local government of Lazio at Porta Futuro. Porta Futuro is an employment centre offering career counseling and vocational training to young job seekers and labour recruitment services to employers. This centre boasts a new model of client-driven service provision with the goal that “every person can thrive based on their merit” (Porta Futuro, 2015). They claimed that surveying clients, designing key performance indicators to measure improvement, professionalising services and building public-private partnerships helped them deliver services with maximum value-add for clients. This new management approach may have been adopted for pragmatic reasons in a climate of austerity where public services are being pruned back. However it can be criticised for not addressing the causes of youth unemployment related to the economic and political structures (White, 2012, p.11).

The local government of Lazio also discussed the ‘Garanzia Giovani’ (Youth Guarantee) European plan to support active policies of orientation, education, training and job placement for young people who are categorised ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET). The government guarantees Italian young people between 15 and 29 years valid work, further education, apprenticeship or internship within four months after becoming unemployed or exiting from the formal education system (Garanzia Giovani, 2015).

Conventional Italian policies to address unemployment issues were investing more money in the economy to boost employment and passive social policies such as redundancies. The economist on the panel challenged the assumption that people will find jobs once the economy has recovered, arguing that we are facing a long recession and new type of persistent labour insecurity. The 150 billion euros needed for the type of counter-cyclical push required to ‘fix’ the economy is not available from the EU, so the Youth Guarantee is proposed as an alternative solution (Porta Futuro, 2015).

There are 400,000 NEET registered just in the Lazio region and the weakness of the policy is that the number of salaried positions is far from capable of meeting the labour supply. The ILO Report on the Youth Employment Crisis indicates deterioration in the time it takes to obtain a first job, duration of transition to a “standard” job after school or their first job and proportion of young NEET to adult unemployment rate (2012, p.17). The Youth Guarantee’s inadequate response to these problems is to provide training for young people in marketable skills while waiting for a job. This may contribute to the phenomena of “educated unemployment” (Jeffrey, 2009) that marginalises youth. The plan also promotes entrepreneurship through training young people in how to develop their own business projects. This shifts emphasis away from genuine employment generation to forcing young people “to improvise their own survival strategies” (White, 2012, p.11).

The financial crisis from 2007 in Europe has disproportionately affected young people. For example, older generations caused the Greek debt problem but the younger generation must take responsibility for repayment, while being excluded from the type of social security older people enjoyed. This generational imbalance discussed by the panel resonates as a familiar narrative in many countries with a declining welfare state. As stated by ILO “what is needed is a policy framework in which the extension of social protection reduces vulnerabilities and inequalities and improves productivity” (2012, p.28). Youth unemployment will become a growing trend if no policy measures are taken.


Garanzia Giovani (2015), ‘Un impresa per il tuo futuro’, Accessed 11 March 2015, http://www.garanziagiovani.gov.it/.

International Labour Office (ILO) (2012), The Youth Unemployment Crisis: Time for Action, International Labour Office, Geneva, Accessed 5 March 2015, http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/101stSession/reports/reports-submitted/WCMS_175421/lang–en/index.htm.

Jeffrey, Craig (2009), ‘Fixing Futures: Educated Unemployment through a North Indian Lens’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 51:1, pp. 182–211.

Porta Futuro Panel Discussion with the local government of Lazio on ‘Garanzia Giovani’, 13 February 2015, Rome.

White, Ben (2012), ‘Agriculture and the Generation Problem: Rural Youth, Employment and the Future of Farming’, IDS Bulletin, 43:6, Oxford.


Guest post by Mahardhika S. Sadjad, a current student in the ISS Child & Youth Studies in Development Context course984074_10152761489194989_7116096001312945834_n

On 17 February 2015, three young British girls were caught on CCTV boarding a plane to Istanbul on their way to Syria to become ISIS brides. Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, are all UK citizens – two of which were born and raised in the UK.

The girls’ seemingly voluntary departure to join ISIS triggered public outcry. While recruitment of young European men into ISIS was increasingly being covered by the media, until then, little attention was given towards the role of young women in ISIS. How could three young, bright girls with a Western education and upbringing even contemplate joining an Islamist group known to oppress and harm women? The media could not figure out whether to paint them as terrorists or victims, oppressed girls or women with agency; brainwashed young Muslims or bright, educated criminal masterminds.

Photo_The Guardian

Photo from The Guardian newspaper

Quoted in the Telegraph.co.uk, Scotland Yard stated that the search for these teenagers was not about ‘criminalising people, it is about preventing tragedies by offering support to the young and vulnerable’ (Evans, 2015). Nosheen Iqbal (2015) expressed a similar opinion in response to headlines that condemned the young women: ‘Being sharp and clever in class doesn’t make them any less impressionable as children… At their age, extremism and nihilism can easily take root, because real life hasn’t really happened to them yet’. These views echo the paradoxical views that society associate with youth, as ‘… terrors of the present, the errors of the past, the prospect of a future… they are figures of a popular imagination far removed from more nuanced social realities’ (Comaroff and Comaroff 2005, 20). Glaringly absent from the discussion were the voices of young people and their views of the subject.

The debate between demonizing and victimizing the young women does little to shed light on the role of ethnicity, gender, age, and social structure that influenced their decisions. Bayat and Herrera (2010, 5) point out that according to Gallup World Poll there isn’t a difference of unemployment rates and education levels between the politically radical and moderate. What sets Muslim youth apart – especially after the tragedies of 11 September 2001 – is a generational consciousness as young Muslims who thrive to construct their identities and individuality within a society that constantly scrutinizes who they are based on what they believe in or who they associate with (Ibid. 10-11). In a social reality where Islam is portrayed as the anti-thesis of ‘the West’, Muslim youth find sources of resistance through everyday religious practices to challenge Western norms where youth are expected to celebrate liberty (Amir-Moazami 2010, 192-193). These expressions differ widely among Muslim youth and must also be understood as a gendered process. One might argue that the most extreme form of these expressions are displayed by the likes of Begum, Sultana, and Abase, who left UK to become ISIS brides.

This blog post is not meant to support ISIS in any way or justify the actions of young people who join ISIS. Instead, I am arguing for the need to go beyond the dichotomized discourse that pushes young people to make ‘either/or’ decisions in constructing their identities, causing them to become more vulnerable to extremism. This binary only works in support of ISIS’ propaganda pitting Islamic fundamentalism against ‘Western imperialism’; attracting Muslim youth in western societies who often feel the injustices faced by minority groups but are too marginalized from meaningful forms of expression. Trying to understand why young people would opt to live in a world of violence and oppression requires us to better understand their views about the realities that they leave behind when they board a plane, departing from Europe.

Reference List

Amir-Moazami, S. (2010), ‘Avoiding “Youthfulness?”: Young Muslims Negotiating Gender and Citizenship in France and Germany, in A. Bayat and L.A. Herrera (eds.) Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. Oxford [etc.]: Oxford University Press.

Bayat, A. and L. Herrera (2010) ‘Introduction: Being Young and Muslim in Neoliberal Times’ in A. Bayat and L. Herrera (eds.) Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. Oxford [etc.]: Oxford University Press.

Comaroff, J. and J. Comaroff (2005), ‘Reflections on Youth: From the Past to the Postcolony’ in A. Honwana and F. De Boeck (eds.) Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, p. 19-30.

Evands, M., 20.02.2015 –last update, “Three missing London schoolgirls ‘travelling to Syria to join Isil’ [Online]. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11424884/Three-missing-British-schoolgirls-travel-to-Syria.html Accessed: 15.03.2015]

Iqbal, N., 24.02.2015 – last update, ‘The Syria-bound schoolgirls aren’t jihadi devil-women, they’re vulnerable children’ [Online] Available: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/24/syria-bound-schoolgirls-arent-jihadi-devil-women-theyre-vulnerable-children?CMP=fb_gu Accessed: 15.03.2015]

Guest post from Megan Baker, a current student in the ISS Child & Youth Studies in Development Context course

Leslie Moore’s presentation on ‘Leveraging Qur’anic schooling for Western-style educational goals’ was mainly centered on comparing Qur’anic schooling to western style schooling, and the ways in which the techniques/traditions of Qur’anic schooling can be leveraged to achieve western-educational goals. More specifically how can Qur’anic schooling be used in order to expand the provision and participation of basic education, as well as to improve educational outcomes for Muslim children who are perceived as being left behind? While these ambitions may be of honorable intention, we should be critical.

For example, looking at the title itself ‘Leveraging Qur’anic schooling for Western-style educational goals’ Moore defines the term leverage as ‘to use something valuable to achieve a desired result’. While this may be the chosen understanding of the verb, and the Merriam-Webstar dictionary does acknowledge this definition, it also presents the following definition, ‘to use for gain: exploit.’ A few of the synonyms listed include abuse, capitalize (on), impose (on or upon), and exploit.

Similarly, it’s important to break down what are the ‘goals’ of western style education that are trying to be achieved. Literacy as well as intellectual, spiritual moral, and community development are mentioned as ideal outcomes of schooling, and while Moore clearly acknowledges that pedagogical shortcomings remain in western style schooling, but highlights the ideal schooling as built on progressive pedagogies that include student-structured instruction, that is inquiry-based and promotes meta-cognition. This is in contrast to critical pedagogy theorists Friere (1970) and Illich (1971) who emphasize the repressive realities of schooling that institutionalize and legitimatize existing power hierarchies and inequalities.

Moore discussed how historically colonial support of Qur’anic schools was the result of goals to reduce Pan-Arab Islamic influence, and to preserve local Islam that fit the interests of the colonizers best. Equally, it’s important to now recognize the motivations behind the current interest in Qur’anic schooling. If the intention is to leverage Qur’anic schooling for Western-style educational goals, we must dig deeper into where goals of increasing literacy intersect with goals of fighting fundamentalism in a geo-political context of Islamaphobia.

We can see such a development initiative as part of the global diffusion of modern education. Andersen-Levitt (2005) explains how “The spread of western style schooling means children growing up around the globe have a more uniform experience of socialization than in the past (998)” and that “Western-style schools can be found everywhere now. They co-exist with other systems of formal education such as Quranic schools and have displaced alternative school systems” (991). This single global model of schooling is part of a much larger globalization process. Ansell (2005), who describes various approaches to development and the neglect of children and youth in these processes, shows how within modernization theory development is done by governments/institutions, and one criterion of ‘modernized children’ is that they attend school. But as Levinson and Holland (1996) remind us, schools are not innocent sites of cultural transmission. Schools tend to target the young, often by global powers, and thus such initiatives to ‘leverage’ Qur’anic traditions should by viewed with caution.


Anderson-Levitt, K. M. (2005) ‘The Schoolyard Gate: Schooling and Childhood in Global Perspective’, Journal of Social History, 38(4), pp. 987-1006.

Ansell, N. (2005) ‘“Development”, Globalisation and Poverty as Contexts for Growing Up’ in Children, Youth and Development. London: Routledge, pp. 38-62.

Friere, P. (1996 (1970)) ‘The “banking” concept of education as an instrument of oppression’ in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin Books. Chapter 2.

Illich, I. (1971) ‘Why We Must Disestablish School’, in Deschooling Society. New York Harper & Row, pp. 1-24

Levarage. 2015. In Merriam-Webster.com.Retrieved February 16, 2015 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levarage

Levinson, B. A. and D.C. Holland (1996) ‘The Cultural Production of the Educated Person: An Introduction’, in B.A. Levinson, D.E. Foley and D.C. Holland (eds.) The Cultural Production of the Educated Person: Ethnographies of Schooling and Local Practice. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 1-30.


Category: CYS specialisation| education| research

17 Sep 2014

downloadNext week the 2013-14 cohort of ISS students present their research paper drafts. The titles suggest an exciting week with many students working on interesting children and youth related topics.

The International Institute of Social Studies in the Hague, the Netherlands offers, among other things, a 15.5 months MA programme in Development Studies. A unique feature of the ISS course offering is that it includes a number of elective courses that specifically focus on questions pertaining children and youth in contexts of development. In addition, other courses integrate a generational perspective that highlight the specific position of children and youth (as well as older people) as a critique to the adult-centric perspective that dominates much development studies.

The 2013-14 students started their programme in September 2013 and finished their course work in June 2014. The summer months were dedicated to individual research projects, often involving primary data collection in countries in the South. Next week students present a first analysis of their material in their research paper draft seminars. Each student has a full hour, which starts with a short presentation followed by feedback from peer-discussants, the supervisory team and other students.

Looking at the titles we have an interesting week ahead of us:

‘The Effects of Cross-border Violence on Uganda Children and Young adult between age 15-24 in Kasese District of Rwenzori Region: The coping strategy for survival’ by Mabel Kabatalya.

“How Are You All Doing?”: Exploring the life experiences and struggles of young generation of South Korea through “narrativization” by Min Jee Park

‘Youth School to Work Transition Experiences in Urban Ethiopia: In the lens of Unemployed and Jobless Youth Experiences’ by Beshir Butta Dale

‘Mothering Fathers?  Fathers’ New “Care” Identity and Navigating the Health Needs of their Children’ by Maurene Ann Donato Papa

‘Migrant Boys and Their Work on Streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’ by Degwale Gebeyehu Belay

‘The Social Impact of the Zimbabwean Crisis: The Case Study of Access and Quality of Education for Rural Secondary School Children’ by Samuel Kapingidza

‘Diverse experiences of teenage pregnancy in Monterrey, Mexico’ by Brenda Janett Rodriguez Cortes

‘Gender Barriers to Policy formulation and Re-entry Policy for pregnant teenagers in Ghana: Examining the silence discourses ‘ by  Yenutien Kombian

‘Responsibility of the State and parents: Child maintenance claims administered in the parallel Kadhi Court system in Zanzibar’ by Sheikha Mohamed Ramia.

‘The Difficulties of Ending FGM: Case of Afar Pastoralist Communities in Ethiopia’ by Masresha Yazew Andarge

‘Societal stigmatization and prejudice: A challenge to the survival of street children in Kampala city of Uganda’, by Annet Najjuma.

‘Eternal Outsiders? Social Exclusion and the Rights of Children with Albinism in Kenya’, by Irene Katunge Nyamu.

‘Troubling Paradox: Gaps between Policy and Reality; Child Poverty and Wellbeing in India’, by Pranab Kumar Chanda

‘Universal Primary Education under Decentralization: An asset or liability to rural schools and communities of Uganda?’ by Agnes Kawala

‘Examining the Dichotomies of Social Protection:   Is the South African Child Support Grant alleviating poverty or perpetuating dependency?’ by Zanele Silo

‘Urban poverty and social protection; Ideal versus reality in the intervention strategies. A Case study of Kazi kwa Vijana (Work for Youth) in Kenyan slums’, by Dominic Ngumbi Mutuku

‘Exploring the Phenomenon of Child-adult partnership for street begging in Tamale, Ghana’, by Wedadu Sayibu.

posted by Roy Huijsmans



Photo credits: Yenutien Kombian

Participatory tools: the right way of constructing knowledge

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)

CYS blog in 2013

Category: CYS specialisation

26 Jan 2014

blog 2013What has been the traffic on the Children and Youth Studies blog in its first full year running (2013)?

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

2. Delhi

3. Toronto

4. Rotterdam

5. Amsterdam

6. London

7. Addis Ababa

8. Bogota

9. Mumbai

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.



ontarioCYS 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.

John also used the occasion to inform us about his career since graduating from the ISS with a major in Children and Youth Studies in 2009. Since the CYS programme is embedded in the MA in Development Studies, John was well-equiped to take up a position as community relations and cultural heritage manager at the Rio Tinto managed Oyu Tolgoi mine in the South Gobi desert, Mongolia. His responsibilities included responding to the daily social and environmental challenges surrounding the building of the mine’s infrastructure and managing implementation of long term sustainable development programs. Working with nomadic culture presented unique challenges around access to water, animal grazing and local employment and required constant dialogue, and meetings with herders and local government to understand various requests and concerns in order to mobilize the company’s support to implement solutions.
Following his job in Mongolia, John now lives in Bogota, Colombia with his fiancé and ISS graduate Maria Paula Ballesteros and is exploring opportunities around corporate social responsibility / community relations in mining.


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.