Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Child Soldier

According to the Cape Town principles, a child soldier is:

"Any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers, and those accompanying such groups, other than purely as family members. It includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms."

In Sudan, thousands of child soldiers have been recruited and used by armed forces, government supported militias and armed opposition groups. In January 2005, a deal was made between Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Sudanese government. The deal, the Comprehensive, Peace Agreement (CPA), or the Naivasha deal, made sure that the parties signing the deal would demobilize all children in their ranks before July 2005. But children are still being used in the conflicts of ignorant adults. They are easily manipulated and used. Even after a long time of abuse and mistreat, they can start to trust you, because they are children. Innocent, white cheats of lives that fill the canvas with whatever the grown ups tell them to put there.

War saddens me, as every injustice in this world. But nothing upsets me more, than the unjust use of poor children - young people that could have a whole bright future ahead of them, if bloodthirsty and vengeful grown ups wouldn't destroy all hope of freedom.

I'm stydying pedagogy at the moment, and will hopefully get my bachelor's degree in June. So I've started to think of what to write as my final paper. For many years I've known that I want to work with those who are less fortunate than me, to make their lives a little bit brighter, and my stay in Sudan confirmed all those thoughts and feelings. So my idea is to write the paper about the effects that education have for those who have been child soldiers, if it contributes to their reintegration into society and if it helps the healing of their souls. I haven't thought of the details yet, but at least it's an idea, or the start of an idea. If you have any suggestions of how to improve the idea, do let me know.


Louise J said...

I think it is a good idea!
Ok, this is kind of what I would do in your situation (though I am an economist... (^_^))
Start reading existing literature on the subject ( and find similar papers within your field.
Since you are enrolled in educational science you should find an angle that emphasizes the role of education.
Start thinking about what rehabilitation and reintegration means and how to define it so you can evaluate the effect of education for former child soldier.
Focus on one specific country with child soldiers and evaluate the educational efforts for only that country.
What kind of methodology is normally used in educational sciences? I guess field studies?
SIDA has a scholarship for Minor Field Studies that I think you should apply for!
Whoops, sorry for too much "advice", I get so excited when I hear about interesting research projects! Keep us updated!

Meme said...

Thanks for the very good advices! I've already started to look for literature and was thinking of limiting my research to Southern Sudan, since I already have some knowledge about the country (and have contacts there that could probably help).

I'm thinking field studies and I hope that I will get the access I need, although the area and subject might be a bit sensitive at times. I will try to get interviews done with both people working in NGO's involved with child soldiers, and with the children.

I know about the MFS but I don't think I can apply for it since I've been in the field before. One of the requirements is that you're a "novice" in developing countries and haven't done anything similar before. But I'll look it up just in case. Thanks again and if you think of something else, feel free to let me know : )

Marianne said...

I have no good advices, but I see you already received them! It sounds like a really important subject, and maybe you can start with "ensamkommande barn" in Sweden. How to reach them, I don't know, however.

Good luck, I am so happy when someone really cares, like you do!