This course is from the Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School – Fall 2007. The instructor is Alberto Minujin in collaboration with Enrique Delamonica. SCOPE: Children represent more than one third of the world’s total population and nearly half of the population in the least developed countries (LDC). To protect them, in 1924, the League of Nations adopted the ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child” and in 1989 the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (CRC). The CRC has nearly universal ratification. Together with its Optional Protocols, the Convention ensures the rights of children’s survival, development and protection.
Governments, leaders, and international organizations are committed to these objectives. However, today “Millions of children make their way through life impoverished, abandoned, uneducated, malnourished, discriminated against, neglected and vulnerable. For them, life is a daily struggle to survive”1. In the developing world most of the poor are children and most of the children are poor. They are massive victims of war, social and family violence. They are orphaned by HIV/AIDS, sexually exploited, and raped. They do not have any way of protecting and exerting their basic rights. They are left uneducated, hungry, and living in the streets. They are made to work, often in hazardous conditions, with no access to sanitation or health services. How can democracy and peace expand under these circumstances? What are the problems of development? What are the main relevant policies and programs that are currently being implemented and how effective are they? Are poverty reduction programs addressing children’s needs? What are the possibilities and alternatives to implement the CRC and improve significantly children’s situation?
Children are the corner stone of the society but they are invisible for the society. To analyze and debate that and other related questions are crucial for any one that wants to work in the area of social and economic development. A critical
study of their situation from a conceptual and programmatic approach provides relevant tools for practitioners and researchers. Students enrolled in this class will derive practical learning on children’s issues, poverty and globalization, as well as on policies and programs to deal with these issues. This knowledge can be applied in their future work and careers in the public, nonprofit, or private sector.
The objective of the course is to analyze and discuss the situation of children and adolescents in the developed and developing world, the historical development of social policy and different programmatic approaches that are presently being implemented around the world. Human Rights and the Convention will be discussed and used as paradigm and benchmark for analyzing programs. The present development agenda and trends will be debated in light of children’s situation and the human rights-based approach.
The course will be structured around three building blocks:
1. The situation. Global trends: situation of children, women and families. What are the main issues and problems for children’s survival, development and protection?
2. Building the Conceptual Framework. Human Rights, Social Policy, Market and Globalization: Human Right; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the human rights based approach to development. Market expansion and social policy. Inequity, poverty and child poverty. What is the CRC, and why and how it is relevant for development? What are the main obstacles for its implementation? What are the relation and tensions between HR and market expansion? What is the role of Social Policy and its historical development? Why and how to understand and analyze child poverty?
3. Policies and programs for child wellbeing: analysis of real world cases. What are the main characteristics of poverty reduction programs and how are children considered? What are ‘cash assistance’ programs and what are their advantages and disadvantages? Which Social Protection Program are being promoted recently and what is ‘working’?