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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



2013 Child and Youth Institute

Theme: Social Protection and the Citizenship Rights of Vulnerable Children in Africa
Deadline: Friday 24th June 2013
Date: 9 – 27 September, 2013
Venue: Dakar, Senegal

Call for Applications

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce its 2013 Child and Youth Institute that will be held for three (3) weeks, from 9 to 27 September 2013. The institute is one of the components of the Child and Youth Studies Programme and is aimed at strengthening the analytic capacities of young African researchers on issues affecting children and youth in Africa and elsewhere in the world. The institute is designed as an annual interdisciplinary forum in which participants can reflect together on a specific aspect of the conditions of children and youth, especially in Africa.


The main objectives of the Child and Youth Institute are to:
1. encourage the sharing of experiences among researchers, civil society activists and policy makers from different disciplines, methodological and conceptual orientations and geographical/linguistic areas;
2. promote and enhance a culture of democratic values that allows to effectively identify issues facing children and youth on the African continent; and
3. foster the participation of scholars and researchers in discussions and debates on the processes of child and youth development in Africa.


The activities of all CODESRIA Institutes centre on presentations made by African researchers, resource persons from the continent and the Diaspora and participants whose applications for admission as laureates have been successful. The sessions are led by a scientific director who, with the support of resource persons, ensures that the laureates are exposed to a wide range of research and policy issues. Each laureate is required to prepare a research paper to be presented during the session. The revised versions of such papers will undergo a peer review to ensure that they meet the required standard for publication by CODESRIA. The CODESRIA Documentation and Information Centre (CODICE) will provide participants with a comprehensive bibliography on the theme of the institute. Access to a number of documentation centers in and around Dakar will also be also facilitated. The CODESRIA Child and Youth Institute will be held in French and English through simultaneous translation.

Theme: Social Protection and the Citizenship Rights of Vulnerable Children in Africa

The theme for the 2013 edition of the Child and Youth Institute is Social Protection and the Citizenship Rights of Vulnerable Children in Africa. The institute seeks to bring together scholars to draw on and add to the growing theoretical and empirical evidence base on child poverty and vulnerability as well as the role-played by social protection in addressing vulnerability. The devastating effects of poverty, ill health, under nutrition and poor education affect the physical, emotional and cognitive development of millions of children in Africa who are overrepresented among the poor. Indeed while poverty denies opportunities to people of all ages, there are several key reasons for a child-focused approach in social protection. Firstly, children have a right to social protection and to have their interests pronounced in policy. Secondly, children are at a higher risk of poverty because they are not independent economic actors and rely on the distribution of resources within their households or communities. Child-focused poverty measures and studies are crucial to providing information about this distribution and its implications for responsive social protection. A related point highlighted in research is that poverty and social protection strategies based on household income or consumption are erroneously premised on equitable intra-household distribution. Scholarship should address these assumptions that household or income measures are a suitable proxy for child vulnerability to poverty. Children also experience poverty in distinctly different ways from adults because poverty in childhood has immediate effects that impact on a child’s wellbeing. These can be sustained into adulthood (life course poverty transmission) and also facilitate the transmission of disadvantage into the next generation (intergenerational transmission of poverty). Children are key actors who often make huge contributions to the economic and social lives of their households. Yet there is still far too little understanding of how children experience poverty and vulnerability and what impoverishment means to them, or how their perceptions and priorities interact with those of local communities and the agendas of local, national and international agencies.
The extent of generalized child vulnerability in Africa calls for evidence based social protection measures to address poverty among children, households and communities. Childhood is a social construct that is gendered and shaped by class, ethnicity and spatial location. Importantly, it is also a relational concept because of children’s positioning in a web of power relations and discourses. Generational relations have however received marginal attention in most discussions of social protection but they are important for understanding notions of childhood underpinning social protection initiatives. Since children are constructed from above (by adults) there are various meanings attributed to childhood by different actors. Unarguably, these conceptions shape engagement and have varying consequences for young people within social institutions including social protection interventions. It is important for research to focus on generational and power relations with specific attention to unequal power relations and in conceptualization of needs of children who are the prime targets of these interventions, but whose voices are conspicuously missing in policy and practice. Childhood is also constructed from outside (based on euro-centric models) and scholarship has troubled the consequence of this construction particularly the emphasis of policy and research on children in Africa on exceptionalism and ‘crisis childhoods’ and groups deemed uniquely disadvantaged and ‘deserving’ exemplified in the moral panic around AIDS orphans. Disproportionate attention is then paid to rescuing these special groupings or ‘fixing’ their ‘emergency’ situations rather than framing them within broader contexts that underpin childhood poverty and vulnerability and efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children.

The state has the ultimate responsibility for providing social protection for its citizens and non-state actors play an important role in strengthening state provisioning by assisting communities to demand this right from the state. The macro environment is the place where the state as the duty bearer is expected to create appropriate contexts for child development and anti-poverty action. A responsive policy framework recognizes the connections between a child’s micro and macro environments and prioritizes and invests in the connections most important for child development. Researchers working within the civic driven change framework have raised interesting questions around the central role of communities and family networks within a child’s microenvironment. They argue that in light of constrained government and market policies, civic-driven change remains the most significant safety net for vulnerable children even in contexts where shocks or extreme vulnerability have strained social capital. Indeed research shows the resilience of the informal and local based system of social protection for children. While some of these tested ways of child social protection have been integrated and strengthened, research shows that many state and non-state actors in social protection tend to marginalize and crowd out these initiatives. This is a major impediment to responsive social protection because it ignores the role of local knowledge systems and perspectives, which is critical for child protection and resilience building. More robust research is needed to unearth these indigenous social protection mechanisms and investigate how different actors are leveraging them in their interventions for more responsive social protection.

Research must continue to explore the link between child protection and social protection, to enhance synergies between social welfare and social protection programmes to address child vulnerability in a more integrated way. This is consistent with the recent advancing of child-sensitive social protection policies which need to respond to: the multidimensionality of child poverty; changes over the course of childhood; the relational nature of child poverty; and children’s lack of voice in social protection policy and practice.

Participants at this year’s Institute are expected to take up these discussions and research issues for further scrutiny.


The 2013 Child and Youth Institute will be directed by Prof. Auma Okwany of Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands). As Director of the Institute, Prof. Auma Okwany will:

- Assist with the identification of resource persons who will lead discussions and debates during the institute;
- Participate in the selection of laureates;
- Design the course for the session, including specific sub-themes;
- Deliver a set of lectures and conduct a critical analysis of the papers presented by the resource persons and the laureates;
- Submit a written scientific report on the session.

In addition, Prof. Auma Okwany will (co) edit the revised versions of the papers presented by the resource persons and assess the papers presented by laureates during the Institute with a view to submitting them for publication by CODESRIA.

Resource Persons

Lectures to be delivered at the Institute are to offer laureates the opportunity to advance their reflections on the theme of the Institute. Resource persons should therefore be senior scholars or researchers in their mid-careers who have published extensively on the topic, and who have significant contributions to make to debates on it. They will be expected to produce lecture materials, which will stimulate laureates to engage in discussions and debates around the lectures and the general body of literature available on the theme.
Once selected, resource persons must:

- Interact with the director of the institute and laureates to help the latter readjust their research questions and their methodological approach;

- Submit a copy of their course materials for reproduction and distribution to participants, not later than one week before they deliver their lectures;

- Deliver their lectures, participate in debates and comment on the research proposals of the laureates;

- Review and submit the revised version of their lecture notes or research papers for publication by CODESRIA not later than two months following their presentation at the Institute.


Candidates should be Masters or PhD students or scholars in their early careers with a proven capacity to conduct research on the theme of the Institute. Intellectuals active in the policy process and/or social movements and civil society organizations are also encouraged to apply. The number of scholarships available for laureates of this Institute, to be selected across the entire African continent is fifteen (15). A limited number of non-African scholars who are able to raise funds for their participation may also apply.

Methods of Application

Applications for the position of resource person must include:
1. An application letter;
2. A curriculum vitae;
3. Two (2) published papers;
4. A proposal of not more than five (5) pages in length, outlining the issues to be covered in their three (3) proposed lectures, including one on methodological issues.

Applications for consideration as laureates must include:
1. An application letter;
2. A letter indicating institutional or organizational affiliation;
3. A curriculum vitae;
4. A research proposal of not more than ten (10) pages, in two copies, including a descriptive analysis of the work the applicant intends to undertake, an outline of the theoretical interest of the topic chosen by the applicant, and the relationship of the topic to the problematic and concerns of the theme of the 2013 Institute;
5. Two (2) reference letters from scholars or researchers known for their competence and expertise in the candidate’s research area (geographic and disciplinary), including their names, addresses, telephone and/or fax numbers and email addresses.

Application Deadline

The deadline for the submission of applications is Friday 24th June 2013. Successful applicants will be notified no later than the third week of July 2013.

Important Notice

All selected applicants should imperatively carry out their field work, collect their data and draft papers for the Institute during the period from July to August 2013. The draft papers should be submitted to CODESRIA no later than 27th August, 2013.

Date and Venue

The Institute will be held from 9 to 27 September, 2013 in Dakar, Senegal.

Submission of Applications

All applications or requests for additional information should be sent to:

CODESRIA Child and Youth Institute
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop x Canal IV
BP 3304, CP 18524, Dakar, Senegal
Tel: (221) 33 825 98 21/22/23
Fax: (221) 33 824 12 89.
Email: child.institute@codesria.sn
Website: https://codesria.org

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