The Discourse and Practice of Child Protagonism: Complexities of Intervention in Support of Working Children’s Rights in Senegal

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Title: The Discourse and Practice of Child Protagonism: Complexities of Intervention in Support of Working Children’s Rights in Senegal
Authors: Lavan, Daniel
Date: 2012
Abstract: Contesting international strategies for combatting child labour that derive from modern, Western conceptions of childhood, several developing country organizations have embraced the principle of child protagonism by declaring that working children can become the leading agents in struggles to advance their interests when they are mentored in forming their own independent organizations. This thesis first explores how an African NGO, informed by its urban animation experiences, developed its own specific discourse of child protagonism and employed it as the basis for establishing an African working children’s organization designed to provide compensatory literacy and skills training and to empower members to improve their own and other children’s working conditions. The thesis considers this foundational child protagonism discourse in light of data collected in Senegal by means of participant observation and interviews in grassroots groups and associations of working children, as well as in the offices of both the local NGO and its international NGO donor. Fieldwork revealed limitations of the specific child protagonism practice pursued over the past two decades. Specifically, redirecting resources from direct pedagogical accompaniment of grassroots working child groups towards bureaucratic capacity building for the “autonomization” of higher hierarchical levels of the organization, as well as towards international meetings, has resulted in the organization’s diminished impact for vulnerable groups in Dakar, particularly migrant girl domestic workers. Deepening implication with international donors has forced shifts in the priorities of the local NGO and the working children’s organization it facilitates, yet the two have been largely successful in buffering donor probes precisely into the ground level effectiveness of their child protagonism strategy. No previous independent research has sought to confront the discourse of child protagonism with a comprehensive examination of a working children’s organization’s practice, from its most local processes to its international dimensions and donor relations.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/22748
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-5638
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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