ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Stolen Childhoods?

Observations on Education of Migrant Children

Dominant discourses on childhood, which assume that it is a static and universally defined phenomenon, have failed to locate the lives of migrant children within them. The need to understand how migrant childhoods are experienced in the historical, political and sociocultural matrix, rather than looking for solace in the universal normativity of childhood, is a critical aspect of policy formulation that concerns the lives and education of migrant children.

Save the Children, an international civil society organisation, released the End of Childhood Report, 2017, titled “Stolen Childhoods.” Of the 172 countries included in the analysis, India ranked 116th in the End of Childhood Index Rankings (Save the Children 2017). The index is calculated based on the performance of countries across various parameters such as child health, education, labour, marriage, childbirth and violence. On the basis of their rank position, countries are classified into the categories: few children missing out on childhood; some children missing out on childhood; many children missing out on childhood; and most children missing out on childhood. According to the report, in India, many children miss out on childhood. All countries that fall into the “most children missing out on childhood” category, are African countries. Furthermore, except for a handful, most countries falling into the “few children missing out on childhood” category are overwhelmingly European. The intriguing question here is what does it mean to say “missing out on childhood?” Why do children from only the so-called developing and underdeveloped countries miss out on childhood, or have their childhoods stolen? And finally, what do stolen childhoods mean to the autonomy and agency of the thousands of children living in difficult circumstances in these countries?

Such observations and questions are hardly new. Discourses on childhoods, based on the assumption that childhood is a static and universally defined phenomenon have been widely criticised. The Eurocentric metanarrative of childhood has played a significant role in defining a single normative childhood discourse, and the associated policy formulations across the world. With the ascent of ideas such as the social construction of childhood and multiple childhoods, various scholars have questioned the normativity of childhood and its implications for policy, as well as for the everyday lives of children.1

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Updated On : 16th Mar, 2018
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