Tuesday 4th November marked the annual research conference of the Consortium for Street Children (CSC). The conference addressed the opportunities and difficulties of counting street children.
NGOs around the world struggle with the need to ascertain an accurate number of street children for their own project development as well as to provide evidence for future funders and donors. The conference aimed to bring together both academics and practitioners to reflect on the issues surrounding counting street children, to open the discussion and share ideas and methodologies.
There were two prestigious keynote speakers both at the forefront of their field. Dr. Lewis Aptekar, Professor of Counselor Education from San Jose State University in the USA, and Professor Irene Rizzini, from the International Centre for Research and Policy on Childhood in Brazil. Both speakers along with other practitioners and experts outlined the key difficulties with counting street children. Whether street children should be counted and why we should count them were some of the questions addressed throughout the day. The varied contexts in which NGOs are working around the world present different problems and challenges when counting street children especially when it comes to defining the term; street child or street connected children.
The conference was held in a participatory format with lectures from the keynote speakers followed by a panel discussion, chaired by the MCT director Dr Christopher Hands, and then shorter presentations from practitioners working around the world. Throughout the day those in the audience were able to ask questions and discuss the issues highlighted by the different speakers. As well as participate in workshops designed to facilitate learning and the sharing of ideas.
One of the speakers was our very own Abdellah Soussi the director of our partner in Morocco â€œLa Fondation pour la protection de lâ€™enfanceâ€ (FAPE). He along with two colleagues are currently visiting London and so was able to present the research we had undertaken counting street connected children in Taroudannt. This was no small feat as it was the first time he had given a speech in English in front of so many people. However, he impressed the crowd with his expertise and professionalism to present a very interesting talk about counting street children in a Moroccan context.
We also had the opportunity to present our other piece of research, undertaken last summer by Connie Wu, during the breaks between speakers. This research was a piece of participatory action research exploring the lives of street connected children in Taroudannt. Throughout all aspects of the research the children took a leading role making decisions and shaping the study itself in a participatory format. We were able to present a poster of our method and results to the other delegates at the conference answering any questions they may of had.
The conference was a huge success and incredibly informative for those that attended. The CSC create an important platform allowing the continued debate and discussion for all those organisations involved in working with street connected children. We look forward to next years conference.