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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



2014 Child and Youth Institute: African Perspectives of Early Childhood Care and Education: Theory, Discourse, Policy and Practice for Children from Birth to Three Years

30th June 2014

Date: 15 – 26 September, 2014
Venue: Dakar, Senegal

Call for applications

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the 2014 session of its Child and Youth Institute that will be held over two (2) weeks, from 15 to 26 September 2014. 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 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 for the 2014 Child and Youth Institute

The theme for the 2014 edition of the Child and Youth Institute is African Perspectives of Early Childhood Care and Education: Theory, Discourse, Policy and Practice for Children from Birth to Three Years. This is the first and crucial step to laying a sound foundation from which a child can grow, develop and learn. Holistic care and stimulation in education, health, nutrition, psycho-social and emotional development is critical in these formative years of life and influences wellbeing throughout the life course.

The range of developmental activities takes place at home and in care centers and providers range from government, non-governmental organizations, private providers and communities to families. Despite the critical role of this foundational stage in child development, this phase has received marginal attention in discourse, policy and research.

There are three issues of marginalisation that necessitate a research focus on early childhood care and education practices for children from birth to 3 in Africa. Firstly, taking into account the importance of early intervention in the lives of very young children, birth to 3 is now gaining increasing attention from national policy makers and international agenda setters. There is growing global awareness of the persistent lack of knowledge supporting diverse perspectives on birth to 3. The limited knowledge stems from well-resourced countries which privilege mostly Western perspectives. Powerful constructs such as The Child, Childhood, Motherhood and Family create normative understandings and are used to shape best practice. When those in resource-poor countries take up thoughts, ideas and practices from dominant framings they enter into an assimilation mode which casts differences as fault lines that need to be corrected. The differences stem from local ideas and practices embedded in family traditions, daily routines, socio-cultural community life with particular economic conditions. It is important for research to continue to address the assumptions of dominant discourses, to de-privilege them and to open up new perspectives through studies that foreground contextually relevant insights that have a bearing on early childhood care and education policy, practice and research in Africa.

Secondly, there is a knowledge gap in practice with and for children informed by history, traditions and contemporary dynamics leading to hybrid practices in Africa. Limited literature from Africa sheds light on practices which contest dominant perspectives on caring for and educating children from birth to 3. Most children in this cohort are cared for in the home environment. In Africa it is not uncommon to find babies and young children immersed in daily activities where they observe and learn from siblings, peers and adults. Opportunities are created for the development of situated intelligences and skills in flexible settings which might lead to agentic behaviour without planned adult support. This is in contrast to some western practices where young children are isolated from the realities of day to day living. In Africa young children are also cared for through shared caretaking and socially distributed support. Early socialisation is informed by multiple caregivers. The consistency in caregiving is fragmentary but not necessarily disruptive to children. Young children are exposed to multiple generational perspectives and support. It is important for research to expand empirical evidence to open up the incredibly rich window which offers greater perspectives on relations and interactions; space and time; materials and objects informing early childhood care and education in Africa. This evidence is needed to inform more contextually responsive early childhood practice, policy and services.

Thirdly, there is a need to develop the capacities of African researchers to conduct Africentric research in early childhood care and education. This is because, childhood studies as well as policy and practice are dominated by scholarship that is rooted in the dominant narrative and discourses of childhood and child care. This is counter-productive to the need for expanding a line of inquiry that is contextually sensitive. Local knowledge has been relegated to the periphery of the dominant child development narrative and investigative methodologies fail to capture the nuances of child care contexts. It is critical for researchers to question the power relations that are embedded in ways of knowing in early childhood development research.

The 2014 Child and Youth Institute will focus on African Perspectives of Early Childhood Care and Education: Theory, Discourse, Policy and Practice for Children from Birth to Three Years. The institute seeks to bring together high achieving African scholars who are interested in growing the evidence base on this early phase of childhood. Researchers will push knowledge boundaries by producing research that interrogates disabling dominant discourses, and frames developmental stimulation and care within appropriate socio-cultural contexts.

Through reflexive and responsive research which is traditionally at the margins, the Institute will provide a space for young scholars to interrogate, investigate and innovate. In so doing, participants will have opportunities to be vocal about perspectives, issues and questions related to early childhood care and education practices in Africa. They will engage in theoretical, methodological, ethical and substantive issue discussions. This multidimensional focus is aimed at providing foundations for young scholars to be change agents in the early years and engage in reflexive research, which is contextually sensitive and responsive to the aspirations, values and wishes of local communities.


The 2014 Child and Youth Institute will be directed by Prof. Auma Okwany of Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Prof. Hasina Banu Ebrahim of the University of Free State of South Africa. As Directors of the Institute they will:

- Assist with the identification of the resource persons who will lead discussions and debates during the Institute;
- Participate in the selection of laureates;
- Design the courses 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.

The Directors 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 mid-career researchers who have published extensively on the topic of the Institute, and who have significant contributions to make. 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 PhD students or scholars in their early childhood 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 places available for laureates of this Institute, to be selected across the entire African continent is fifteen (15). scholars who are able to raise funds for their participation may also apply for a limited number of places.

Methods of Application

Applications for the position of resource person must include:
• An application letter;
• A curriculum vitae;
• Two (2) published papers;
• 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:
• One duly completed application form;
• An application letter;
• A letter indicating institutional or organizational affiliation;
• A curriculum vitae;
• A research proposal of not more than ten (10) pages 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 Institute;
• 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.
NB: Incomplete applications will not be examined by the selection committee.

Application Deadline

The deadline for the submission of applications is 30th June 2014. Successful applicants will be notified during the second week of July 2014. 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 2014. The draft papers should be submitted to CODESRIA not later than 29th August, 2014. The Institute will be held from 15 to 26 September, 2014 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

Application Form

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