By Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer
Am just back from visiting colleagues in Andhra Pradesh last week. I visited to attend the launch of the new Division for Child Studies, at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies, timed to coincide with World Children’s Day – the anniversary of global commitments to children through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The establishment of the Child Studies Division is an excellent sign to see, collaboration between UNICEF in Andhra Pradesh and CESS, and building on years of experience CESS have as a research partner within Young Lives. We need more centres like this – able to bring together in one place what is known about policies for children, to provide hubs for networks of those concerned about improving policy for children.
Having visited and listened to much discussion over the past week, gives rise to a couple of reflections. (more…)
By Santiago Cueto, Country Coordinator for Young Lives in Peru
Last week I attended a meeting convened by the World Bank on Assessment for Global Learning. There was intense discussion and a sense among many participants that we are facing a learning crisis which needs to be tackled directly and forcefully by the international community.
The target of achieving primary education set out in the MDGs and the six goals set out in the Education For All declarations have been effective drivers of change, and the available data have shown significant increases in access to education (although with significant gaps among and within countries). But there is also abundant evidence that many children attending school don´t learn even very basic skills, such as decoding words or performing simple addition and subtraction. It would seem that the children most likely to be attending poor quality schools and learn so little are children from poor, minority, or rural communities. (more…)
By Kirrily Pells, Young Lives Policy Officer
Today is Universal Children’s Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989. Since Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November, the news has been dominated by the devastation caused, raising questions over the extent to which weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and extreme due to climate change. At the same time, mention is often made of the ‘resilience’ of the population of the Philippines.
While environmental shocks risks, such as drought or flooding, tend only to feature in the news once they achieve disastrous proportions, for millions of poor people managing environmental risks is a daily struggle. Poor households tend to be located in the areas within countries most at risk of exposure to environmental hazards, have more precarious livelihoods and so are prone to recurrent shocks. (more…)
14 November is celebrated as Children’s Day in India. The day coincides with the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14, 1889) the first Prime Minister of India. Children addressed him fondly as ‘Chacha Nehru’ or Nehru Uncle, since he displayed a special affection and faith in children.
Undoubtedly, India has made considerable progress since independence in terms of exemplary economic growth. Today, India has a child population of 380 million (Census 2011) which is larger than the entire population of North America (USA, Mexico and Canada) and every fifth child in the world is an Indian. The country has the largest youth population in the world and can boast of youngest workforce. (more…)
I had the privilege of presenting at the first seminar of this term’s Children and Youth in a Changing World inter-departmental seminar series. This was a great opportunity to present a forthcoming paper on how economic and social change affects children growing up in poverty. Drawing on Young Lives research, the presentation brought together survey and qualitative analysis to discuss three key areas. Firstly, how children’s development is shaped by different environmental influences. Secondly, to explore the changing nature of risks and opportunities in children’s lives during the first decade of the twenty-first century. And finally, to consider the implications for policy. (more…)
By Nikki van der Gaag
The latest State of the World’s Girls, on girls in disaster situations, has just been published by Plan International.
As the principal author of five out of the seven reports, I always make a research trip to get a sense of the reality of the issue on the ground and to talk to and interview girls, their families and their communities.
For this report, I went to Pakistan, which had suffered horrendous flooding in 2010 and where, in some areas, this was continuing to disrupt lives. There were three things that really struck me. (more…)
By Paul Dornan
Today (17 Oct) is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Yesterday was World Food Day (yes, another day) and my colleague Elisabetta Aurino highlighted the ways in which food insecurity is often presented in the media in very stark terms – too many people, too little food. But she went on to point out that per capita the global food supply has actually increased. The issue is rather more complex than some choose to acknowledge. Simple may be helpful, but simplistic isn’t.
In that spirit … here are three reflections of a rather different kind from recently published Young Lives analysis. Different for what they say about the complexity of poverty and what can be done to eradicate it. (more…)
By Elisabetta Aurino
Today is World Food Day and probably the best place to start thinking about the meaning of this yearly recurrence is to read the two comments below, which capture a large part of the rhetoric around food security in both policy and media discourses:
“It is critical that the post-2015 development agenda has an explicit goal on food security (…). To sufficiently feed all people by 2050, worldwide food availability in caloric content will need to increase by roughly 64%” (Hansen 2013 p. 4)
“What are all these famines in Ethiopia? What are they about? They are about too many people for too little land. That’s what it’s about.” (Sir David Attenborough, The Guardian, 18 September 2013).
Is food security a problem of insufficient availability of food then? Or of resources too scarce for a steadily growing population? By looking at the official statistics, per capita food supply has been increasingly rising since the 1970s, but this constant increase has not been correspondingly matched by a decrease in the global number of the hungry and the malnourished (as you can see here). So why is FAO still estimating that there are almost 850 million of hungry people in the world in 2013? (more…)
By Paul Dornan
Although the United Nations High-Level Panel on the future of the MDGs had rejected the idea of a goal to address income inequality, it has embraced on the debate about inequality – pushing for zero-based targets for some goals and routine disaggregation of data to measure progress. As ODI’s Claire Melamed put it neatly at the time, the inequality campaigners had lost the battle but won the war. The proposed (not agreed) zero-based targets cover a range of issues – preventable mortality, primary enrolment, basic literacy and numeracy, absolute poverty, hunger, water, sanitation, and other domains. What the High-Level Panel has called ‘global minimum standards’, the NGOs have called ‘getting to zero’ – and right on cue, Save the Children has issued a report which seeks to articulate what ‘getting to zero’ might mean. (more…)
By Renu Singh
On the occasion of Teacher’s Day, I cannot help reminiscing about the teachers who influenced me so profoundly and salute the efforts of teachers who spend their entire working career, supporting and ensuring that each child is provided opportunities that support her/ his optimal development. Undoubtedly, teachers remain at the heart of school reform and teacher professional development poses huge challenges as India aims to achieve Millennium Development Goal 2 and implements the Right to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009. A key concern is that out of a total of 785,227 qualified teachers who sat for the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) introduced in 2011, less than 7% teachers passed the exam, in spite of having gained a professional teaching qualification such as DEd or BEd. Serious concerns have therefore been raised regarding functioning of teacher education institutes by the Justice Verma Commission Report (2012) that stated “preparation of teacher education has remained a weak link in ensuring the quality of pre-service teacher education; and, therefore, the issue of the profile of a teacher educator should receive due attention, transcending the existing thinking on the subject“. (more…)