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Transforming research into evidence-based policy and practice
Held at Tomreik Hotel on 28th November 2017
Recent reports from research findings stress that the social and economic wellbeing of the average Ghanaian child is dire. It is estimated that poverty affects more children than it affects adults in Ghana. Projections by UNICEF indicate that almost 3 out of every 10 children in Ghana are living in poverty. A considerable number of children from disadvantaged communities and households in Ghana are exposed to abuse, economic exploitation and vulnerabilities, including child trafficking, child labour, child marriage and working as commercial child sex workers. Children under 15 year’s make-up nearly 40% of Ghana’s population. This means that much of what can be achieved in decades ahead depends on the young people of today, failing which predicts a bleak future.
Despite the existence of numerous organisations doing research and interventions on child protection, there is still lack of adequate real-time data on the state of the Ghanaian child. In most cases, research findings are not made available for usage by other organisations, and most research findings are fragmented and disconnected from policy and on-going field interventions on child protection. It is therefore imperative to create a platform that shares data on the state of children in Ghana that could inform policy and practice.
The Participatory Development Associates Limited (PDA) organised a knowledge sharing workshop on November 28, 2017 that brought together state and non-state actors as well as other stakeholders to share realities and experiences in child protection, successes, failures and opportunities as well as explore options for stronger collaboration among stakeholders for stronger impact in child protection. 78 practitioners, policy makers think tanks, public and private institutions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the private sector participated in the workshop.
In a welcome address, a principal consultant of PDA, Tony Dogbe, said the theme “Transforming Research into Evidence-Based Policy and Practice”, was appropriate and timely as it sought to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, adding that innovative and integrated options to dealing with child exploitations would be identified, as well as ways to connect research findings with action-oriented policies and programmes.
In a Keynote address on behalf of the Minster of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Director for Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr. Mawutor Ablo, emphasized the importance of research for improved child protection. To develop systems to improve protection of children and promotion of their rights, it was crucial for CSOs, academic institutions, think tanks and other private sector stakeholders to continue to undertake research. He further called for an up-to-date data for timely implementation of an intervention, noting that the Ministry will continue to rely on credible research and statistics, as it is the only way of knowing the efficacy of interventions and programs implemented by the government and other stakeholders aimed at improving children’s wellbeing.
Key presentations for the day were in two parts. The first part teased out critical issues of exploitation, and second included appropriate approaches for reinforcing child protection systems. The presentations on critical issues of child exploitation included a research report on child forced early marriage in Volta Lake communities and a project report on child rights in mining and fishing communities. Presentations on approaches that reinforced child protection systems included the use of SDG Kids and facilitation guides on child protection to empower children and communities against child abuse and exploitation; and the use of appropriate pedagogies to improve learning outcomes and reduce school drop outs.
Six themes were drawn out for World Café discussions, which explored critical dimensions of child protection. These included discussions on unlikely spaces for abuses, neglect or exploitation, appraisals of state and non-state actors in child protection, strategies for stimulating community interest in child protection, and strategies for making the voices of children count in homes and communities.
A market place was set up for practitioners, think tanks and policy makers to showcase their work and publications. Five organisations presented their works at the market place.
As a means of contributing to continuous research, filling the data gap, and creating awareness and public support for child protection, PDA launched a new project dubbed PROTECT THAT CHILD to track and report on child abuse cases in Ghana.
All participants expressed the need for a common forum for coordinating Child Protection activities.