Cooperation with SOS-Kinderdorf International

Capabilities: Realizing life chances of children. An international study that gives children a voice

sos_namibiaWindhoek 18/03/2010 – In the last six month, SOS Children’s Villages International in collaboration with the International Research Center Salzburg (Austria) has conducted the international research project “Approaching Capabilities with Children in Care” in Namibia and Nicaragua (Central America). In Namibia, stakeholders such as the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) and the University of Namibia (UNAM) were successfully involved in the research process which took place in Windhoek, Khomas Region, and Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region.

SOS_Kinderdorf_International_NEG_DeutschThe goal of the study is to find out if the so called “Capability Approach”, developed by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen in the field of development economics, can serve as a framework for assessing and optimising youth and family related services in different cultural contexts. Therefore more than 170 children and youths in two different countries have been interviewed and asked for their values and their expectations for their future. The interviewees had also the chance to share their views about the importance and quality of the support they already receive and about the necessity of getting additional support to achieve their goals.

In an attempt to establish a cross cut and a more objective assessment, not only children supported by different child-care organisations were involved but also those coming from families that are not participating in any kind of support programme. Furthermore, more than 120 adults working with/caring for children and youths took also part in the study in order to achieve a multiple-perspective approach on the question of what a bright future of the young people looks like.

Although the analysis of the data collected is still in process, the results seem to be promising. They confirm that many children can successfully be involved in important decisions concerning their lives and that they often have the abilities to form and express their own views on a variety of matters. In addition, there seems to be a trend that children, irrespective of their vulnerability status, have very similar ambitions and want to realize identical opportunities that would enable them to pursue their aspirations albeit career or personal growth.

In many cases the respondents were also able to identify components necessary to achieve the flourishing life they strive for. Examples for this are a stable family or care environment, appropriate housing and living conditions and – most of all – access to primary, secondary and even tertiary education. A further anticipated outcome might provide organisations like SOS Children’s Villages with an indication as to whether the aspirations of children and adults would show a variance. This would have a critical bearing in the pursuit of an enabling development environment.

The concluding conference of the study in Namibia will take place on Tuesday, 23rd of March 2010, between 9.30 and 13.00 at the GZ Function Centre in Windhoek. There the project will be introduced together with its highly participative methodology, and first results will be presented. Many of the participants will be present and they will also report on their experience during the study.

For further details please contact Gunter Graf at ggraf [at] ifz-salzburg.at