Book Review: ‘Education in South America’

By Santiago Cueto, Country Coordinator for Young Lives in PeruSantiago Cueto_CROP

Internationally, education has been heralded as a key instrument for individual and national development. How much has been accomplished towards realising the goal of quality education for all is a matter of debate and research. Recently a series of nineteen volumes has been planned to overview recent research for every region in the world. The series is edited by Colin Brook of the University of Durham and published by Bloomsbury. The most recently (fourth) published volume focuses on Education in South America, edited by Simon Schwartzman, and prompted these reflections. (more…)

Not all child migration is trafficking and not all child work is slavery

Jo Boyden, Director, Young LivesJo Boyden

This week, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced during his visit to South East Asia that new measures, enshrined in the Modern Slavery Act, will come in to force to curb the growth of human trafficking and slavery. This has, of course, thrown the whole issue of modern-day slavery and trafficking back into the media limelight.

Away from that limelight however, there are other discussions that attempt to go beyond the headlines. Open Democracy’s Beyond Slavery is one such effort. Gina Crivello and I recently posted a blog there on child migration and schooling.

This week on the same Beyond Slavery blog, Mike Dottridge, the former director of Anti-Slavery International has written an uncomfortable but important truth; in the outrage caused by the continued existence of child trafficking and slavery throughout the world today, these practices are all too readily inflated to cover all forms of child migration and work. In this way, a legitimate cause for concern is all too readily translated into inappropriate responses. (more…)

What needs to be done to keep child marriages trending down

Alula Pankhurst, Country Director, Young Lives Ethiopia
This blog originally appeared in The Conversation  on 23 June 2015

The broader African and international lobby against child marriage and other harmful traditional practices has grown tremendously in recent years. Its political clout is being felt right down to the grassroots level with positive outcomes.

These campaigns are being stepped up. Last week, the African Union launched a campaign to end child marriage in Africa. This produced a common position on ending child marriage.

Last week also saw the annual Day of the African Child (June 16). Joined-up thinking and campaigning led to this year’s theme of accelerating collective efforts to end Child Marriage in Africa.

To galvanise all this support and translate commitments to action, the Ethiopian government has planned a National Girl’s Summit on June 25. This follows a similar summit in London last year, where the country committed to ending female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage by 2025. (more…)

Beyond the rhetoric: understanding the links between child labour and education

by Renu Singh, Country Director of  Young Lives India

On World Day Against Child Labour, we are once again reminded of the innumerable children who are continuing to work in inhumane conditions in sweat shops, mines, factories and behind Renu Singh_IMG_1153_CROPclosed doors from where their voices are never heard.

Over the past decade the number of children in paid occupations has reduced in India from over 12 million in 2001 to over 4 million in 2011. After a prolonged wait, the Cabinet has recently banned all forms of child labour for those under the age of 14. This was mainly to align itself with the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 which makes education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6-14 years. While the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 banned the employment of children up to the age of 14 in hazardous occupations, this proposed Amendment bill prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes, other than family enterprises and farm lands (after school hours and holidays). I’ve commented on this amendment elsewhere. (more…)

Rising school enrolment, plunging test scores

Renu Singh_IMG_1153_CROPWriting for Ideas for India this week, Young Lives India Country Director Renu Singh finds that the rise in school enrolment is associated with a worrying decline in learning standards. She stresses that an exploration of factors leading to this decline is essential in the wake of increasing investment in elementary education.  “Achieving the ‘Education for All’ goal cannot rest on access to schooling and enrolment alone; it requires focusing on a meaningful and relevant curriculum, human resource management systems that ensures regularity and accountability, and availability of qualified and professionally trained teachers, that would enable enhanced student retention, attainment and achievement”.

Read her article at:

“I do not like my school, since the teachers beat me badly”: how corporal punishment makes children feel

by Virginia Morrow, Senior Researcher, Young Lives

Ginny cropped_low-resOne of the success stories of the Millennium Development Goals has been the increase in enrolment of children in primary schools. However, little attention has been paid to the daily experiences of children in school, from their viewpoints, and the role corporal punishment plays in those experiences.

Corporal punishment is widely used in schools globally despite international concern about the effects on children and the implications for their capacity to benefit from school.  And yet it persists. Changing social policies send clear messages about practices that are not acceptable, but the eradication of corporal punishment in schools globally is proving difficult, and India is no exception. Violence against girls is now high on the Indian political agenda, after the horrific fatal gang rape of a female student in Delhi in 2012 led to widespread demonstrations demanding an end to sexual violence against girls and women.

However,  more ‘normal’ forms of violence may go unnoticed or unquestioned, and limited academic attention has focussed on children, and how patriarchy leads to gendered differences in the way boys and girls are treated at home, school and society at large. Social divisions based on caste, class and socio-economic status remain predominant, and violence against the powerless by those in power is common. (more…)

Guest blog: 10 Recommendations on how to advance equity for children in the SDGs

gunay salazar photo

Guest post by Günay Salazar, Equity for Children

Equitable societies have to be built; they are not a given. We saw that the Millennium Development Goals Agenda – despite its reported achievements– missed out on the most disadvantaged populations. We know by now who they are: the most vulnerable are often income-poor; ethnic, racial and religious minorities; rural dwellers; environmentally vulnerable communities; and children, especially girls.

The new Approaches to Equity Report highlights key findings on current equity approaches and 10 practical recommendations for policymakers around the globe to create inclusive and equitable societies. (more…)

Do children and young people have a place in International Workers’ Day?

Gina_cropped_lowresBy Gina Crivello, Senior Research Officer

May 1st celebrations honouring working people and the working classes tend to be very public displays – whether street parades, rallies or public speeches. Over the past century, the labour movement has advocated for the 8-hour working day and for women’s suffrage, and in more recent years, marches have highlighted the rights of undocumented workers and the views of anti-capitalists.

International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some places, is about making the rights and voices of workers visible and heard.

But do children and young people have a voice as working people? (more…)

Lighting the way to better policy: measuring child poverty in the SDGs

Child-poverty_indicators_coverBy Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer

To achieve the vision for the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the UN Secretary General’s synthesis of the post-2015 discussions,  child poverty needs to be at the core of the new framework. Childhood is the critical period for the development of human faculties. Not only does poverty experienced during childhood have demonstrable damaging life-long consequences, but its impact on children’s health and learning represent a huge waste of human potential in rapidly changing societies. (more…)

Preventing child mortality and addressing ‘the lottery of birth’

The_Lottery_of_Birth_coverby Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer, Young Lives

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The status report on the Convention published by the UN in September noted an incredibly important fact –that under-5 mortality has nearly halved, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 per 1,000 in 2012. That is 17,000 fewer children dying every day. The pace in reducing early child deaths has quickened – from a 1.2% per annum in 1990–95 to 3.9% in 2005–12.  Of course this is a tremendous success story, but to put it into perspective, the global average of 48 per 1000 compares to 5 per 1000 in the UK and 3 in Sweden, and the MDG goal of a two-thirds reduction will not be met by the 2015 target year.

Last week Save the Children issued a report, The Lottery of Birth, which shines a spotlight on a key part of this story which is that even within national averages, the progress has not been equitable – mortality rates are typically falling least among the poorest and most marginalised children and mortality inequalities within countries are growing. The implication of this is that to make further reductions requires policies to reach the poorest families, where the problem is greatest. (more…)