This proposed study aims mainly at finding out how the family income/poverty level and child poverty generates the children into various vulnerability statuses including working children and out of schooling condition in Myanmar. Data collection methods used for the research will be the analysis of various reports upon poverty issues, situation of working children, situation of schooling in Myanmar as archive review, follow by semi-structured interviews with local leaders and stake holders, key informant interview and questionnaire surveys with household. It is anticipated that the findings will be used as baseline information for the situation of working children in Myanmar.
Rationale and context
In recent years, the widespread child poverty and its consequences of children vulnerability in developing countries are in great interest for many scholars of both academic and development field with the strong motivation of finding appropriate policy changes towards them. UNICEF conducted a study upon that and stated that nearly half of the income-poor are children associated with children. Its estimation extend that at least 600 million children (under the age of 18) are struggling to survive on less than US$ 1 a day all over the world. They represent a staggering 40% of children in developing countries (UNICEF, 2000: 9). Non-income indicators tell a similar story. Gordon et al. (2003) use household survey data from 46 developing countries to examine the incidence of severe deprivation among children along eight dimensions of wellbeing - food, water, sanitation, health, shelter, education, information and access to services. They find that one in two children in the sample suffers from severe deprivation in at least one dimension, and that one in three suffers from two or more forms of severe deprivation. The incidence of infant mortality for developing countries shows that poverty and vulnerability have an impact not only on the quality of their lives, but also on the quantity of life.
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Concerns with the incidence and depth of poverty among children also reflect an understanding of the long-term consequences of poverty and vulnerability in childhood. There is a great deal of evidence supporting the view that spells of poverty in early life have detrimental effects extending over the entire life of an individual, and can generate or reinforce intergenerational poverty persistence (Yaqub, 2002; Case et al., 2003; Harper et al., 2003). Intergenerational effects operate through a number of channels: childhood poverty is strongly associated with less schooling and lower educational attainment, with long-term effects on future productive capacity and standard of living; childhood poverty in developing countries often leads to malnutrition and stunting, with malnourished girls, in particular, having a greater likelihood of giving birth to low birth weight babies, which jeopardises their life chances; and nutritional deficiencies during childhood lead to lower learning outcomes, with inter-generational effects, because the education of mothers has been shown to be particularly important to children's wellbeing.
Appropriate policy responses to childhood poverty and vulnerability are therefore important because children are disproportionately represented among the income-poor, many suffer from severe deprivation, and their poverty and vulnerability have cumulative and long-term consequences for their future and that of their children. There is much to be learned from existing policy responses to childhood poverty and vulnerability in developing and transition countries. These include basic services such as education, health (including immunisation), and water supply; in-kind transfers such as school feeding programmes or nutritional supplements; and cash transfers providing consumption or education subsidies.
In the mean time, the new development agenda on children marks a major shift from the consideration of children as marginal subjects primarily within health and education programmes, to the promotion of children as a development target group in themselves, through the rubric of child rights. The style is more punchy and political. The claims of disadvantaged children have shifted from the negotiable ground of welfare or needs based approaches to the assertion of universal rights that must be honoured. Classic images of children as passive and vulnerable are transposed to those which conjure their active agency and participation.
Direct project intervention is seen as secondary to advocacy to promote a more child friendly culture overall. As with rights-based approaches in development more generally, this shift is seen to offer a more forceful assertion of children's entitlements, from the relatively weak claims of welfare to the strong grounds of politics (Ferguson, 1999).
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In Myanmar, both the profile of children's issues and the number of development agencies working on them have risen dramatically through the 1990sAs elsewhere, the language of child rights now dominates this scene. As always in Myanmar, poverty always in remains the primary context of and rationale for intervention. As this overall focus is customized within the child-focused community, however, the development problem is receiving a distinctly cultural twist. Increasingly the core difficulties facing disadvantaged children are attributed to the absence of child rights in Myanmar culture and their solution sought in raising 'child rights awareness'. Instead of political economy this renders culture, ideology or attitudes the key issue. The problems of disadvantaged children are thus attributed not to their exploitation as poor, but to their non-recognition as children. The remedy lies not in addressing the structures that produce (child) poverty, but in convincing parents, employers, civil society and the state that children constitute a distinct social group with specific rights.
The impetus for work on child rights derives from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). The shift from 'welfare' to 'rights' and political economy to culture in the language of development agencies in Myanmar reflects their membership of the global development community.
Most of the early studies upon the child poverty and child right centered mostly on Latin America, but recent studies have extended the focus to countries in Africa and Asia. In my study, I would like to find out the understanding of poverty in Myanmar, how it is conceptualized and measure poverty, its causes and consequences of child poverty in Myanmar so find out is there any violation of rights due to the child poverty.
Both qualitative and quantitative approach will be employed in this proposed study. Data will be collected through document analysis to see to what extent the child poverty and its consequences present in Myanmar. Semi-structured interviews will be done with local leaders and stake holders who are acting as informal leader in Myanmar culture to see how they perceive the child poverty and what they think could be done to reduce its consequences. As well as this, parents, guardians and children opinions about the child poverty and what they think could be done to reduce its consequences of child poverty will be surveyed through both closed and open-ended questionnaires.
The research will take place at the village level of Hlaing Thar Yar township, in Yangon. The timeframe of the study will be one month during which all the data collection activities will be carried out. One data entry assistant is needed to help with this data collection and data entry work.
Limitations and potential problems
There are some problems and limitations in obtaining data for this research and therefore results will be affected.
As some of the local leaders and stake holders may not be aware of what child poverty is, their answers to the interview may not well reflect their belief and understanding. Each local leader and stake holder will then be asked to select a scenario to give to the researcher who will further analyze it against their responses. This comparison will help consolidate the answers given in the interview, so that it will show their genuine understanding.
Apart from that, there may also be low response rate on the questionnaires either because the household may not be willing to fill or literate level or because they may not be able to fill out all the questions. To minimize the issue, the research assistant and volunteers will help in filling the answers for questionnaires.
Moreover, since the research is looking only at one sample of the population due to constraints of time and possible numbers, it will focus only on the household and children present in that area. In this sense, limitation on generalizability will result. However, it is considered that some of the findings might also be applicable to other area in the future. The findings of the study will also lend some contributions to the task of effective programme planning and development work in the country.