2011 African Child Rights Fellowship

Award Announced June 2011

2011 Center for the Human Rights of Children African Child Rights Fellowship

The CHRC fellowship seeks to address this critical gap in child rights research related to child rights in Africa. To that end, the Center for the Human Rights of Children would like to announce Dr. Terry B. Northcut as its 2011 Fellow. Her research aims to provide an institutional perspective on the psychosocial support to orphan and vulnerable children in Ethiopia. The study will focus in part on how Ethiopia is addressing its international legal obligation to provide psychosocial support to children put at risk by poverty, HIV/AIDS, family disintegration, and violence. Based out of Addis Ababa, the study will also identify the structures, processes, and outputs that are institutionalized around the field of services in Ethiopia to determine if the resulting institutional infrastructure serves the best interests of the child as called for by the UNCRC. Dr. Northcut will be will be assisted by Daniel Hailu, a doctoral graduate student in the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Dr. Terry B. Northcut, Associate Professor, Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work, received her Ph.D. from Smith College School for Social Work and her MSW from the University of Tennessee.  She teaches in the Human Behavior in the Social Environment and Methods Sequences.  Her publications and scholarly interests include the integration of psychodynamic theory and cognitive-behavioral techniques, spirituality and clinical social work, teaching methodology, and the influence of postmodernism on social work practice.  Dr. Northcut co-edited with Dr. Nina Heller the text, “Enhancing Psychodynamic practice with cognitive-behavioral techniques.” She has taught at Smith College, University of Southern California, University of Tennessee, and Belmont College.

Joshua Dankoff, J.D. (Class of 2011, Loyola University Chicago)  will receive a smaller Professional Scholarship award for his proposal, “Exploring Traditional Justice Mechanisms as Opportunities for Diversion of Children in Conflict with the Law in Cameroon and Malawi.”

We would like to thank our esteemed review committee for their time and input:

Kathleen Maas Weigert, Ph.D., Carolyn Farrell, BVM, Professor of Women and Leadership

Assistant to the Provost for Social Justice Initiatives

Diane Geraghty, J.D., Director, Civitas ChildLaw Center

Peter Schraeder, Ph.D, Professor, Department of Political Science, Loyola University Chicago

Why Child Rights Work in Africa is Important

Africa is home to the second largest number of young people in the world. Studies show that more children under the age of five live in the region than anywhere else. The presence of such a vulnerable population underscores the need to safeguard children’s rights as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). While the annual population growth rate for the continent has steadily declined over the past two decades, its overall population is estimated to double by 2045. Sub-Saharan Africa already has more than twice the number of children under age fourteen as Europe and Central Asia. With nearly half of the world’s out-of-school children, African countries shoulder an increasing systemic burden. In relation to comparable regions, youth in Africa between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four are the least likely to be literate. For those that are enrolled in educational institutions, attendance is more of a significant issue than it is for children in Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East.

The status of child rights in the region faces considerable immediate and long-term challenges. Africa’s children are subject to an increased level of gender disparity. Although similar numbers of boys and girls begin the schooling process, more boys are likely to complete compulsory primary education than girls. From the estimated thirty million children out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa, fifty three percent are girls. Worldwide, this disproportionate ratio of out-of-school girls to boys is only surpassed by that of the Arab States. Daunting poverty rates further exacerbate efforts to remedy gender disparity. Not accounting for South Asia, in 2005 there were more people below the poverty line in Sub-Saharan Africa than all the world’s regions combined. This data suggests that Africa is well in danger of failing to meet the 2015 gender equality and universal education objectives outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals. Likewise, it is also doubtful that the region will reach the broader goals encompassed by the Education for All initiative established over twenty years ago.

African countries face many of the same problems as others in the developing world. Scholarship within the region has shown, however, that they require distinct approaches to problem-solving particularly in addressing children’s issues. Currently, there is a crisis in scientific publishing on children in Africa, with less than 5% of papers published by peer reviewed journals with a focus on children in Africa. A recent study published by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) stated that the situation of children in Africa is worse than in any other part of the world, and in some countries, deteriorating rapidly. All countries in Africa, except Somalia, have ratified the UNCRC. Ratification entails the obligation of the party states to report on the progressive realization of the rights of the child. Almost all countries in Africa are late with this reporting, due to lack of data and information on the situation of children in most African countries.

Award Announced June 2011