It was my privilege yesterday afternoon to attend a thought provoking and stimulating presentation given by the Young Lives team on work, care and school in young lives. A keynote speech by research associate Virginia Morrow, led by Young Lives director Jo Boyden and supported by colleagues Jonathan Blagborough and Keetie Roelens, described and presented analysis and findings from a fascinating 15 year longitudinal study into the lived experiences of 12,000 children and young people in Peru, Vietnam, India and Ethiopia with a particular focus on the impact that children’s work has on their education.
The study closely monitors the sustainable development goals to improve the lives of children and families in the developing world. Young Lives address some of the challenges surrounding child labour, the controversies and the debate with honesty and rigorous analysis.
I’m really looking forward to reading reports due out in November and checking out the data on the Young Lives web site. I began my social research career in education and international development and it’s an interest which has stayed with me across the years of engaging vulnerable children, young people and their caregivers in policy research.
The Young Lives team recognise the value of working directly with children and hearing their lived experience and I believe this is one of the best ways to inform policy and improve lives for children and young people. Policy makers are often very preoccupied with data, which is of course vital to planning and management, but in my view nothing changes minds, practice and culture so well as the creative qualitative research methods like those used by Young Lives researchers across four very different countries and cultures.
Children’s voices need to be heard by the policy makers who work to improve their lives in country and this team has spent 15 years making sure they are.