Past Event

Sussex Development Lectures

Disrupting conceptual certainties: reconsidering children’s work and schooling

11 November 2021 17:00–18:30

In these times of increasing uncertainties, and rising inequalities, ‘children’ living in poverty are experiencing greater demands on their time. In this presentation, we reconsider the dominant conceptual frameworks surrounding children’s work and schooling, which overlook the dynamic, contextually-situated social processes. 

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Drawing on research from rural Sub-Saharan Africa (and Ghana in particular), we disrupt the universalised assumptions about what constitutes ‘work’ and ‘childhood’, and prevailing assumptions that schools are benign sites of learning, devoid of work, and the place that children should be. 

This discourse is sustained through the SDGs, by the imperative to quantify ‘progress’ in reducing the number of children ‘in child labour’ and increasing the number of children ‘in (or completing) school’. Here, we introduce an alternative conceptual framework for understanding children’s work and schooling, which takes account of context, change and uncertainty, and which has implications for future research and development.

The lecture discusses the findings from the report Education and Work: Children’s Lives in Rural Sub‑Saharan Africa.



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