September 8, 2010


HERE ARE some articles that could be useful to understanding child development, and, as a consequence, to enriching mentor-mentee relationships.


By Krishna Kumar, professor of education at Delhi University
and former Director of NCERT

This article, which appeared in The Hindu, offers some insights into how conflicts between different government development programmes and departments in education can be counter-productive. An excerpt:
“Competing for praise and popularity is as common between Ministries as are turf wars. When officers from different Ministries get the rare opportunity to meet and discuss matters of shared concern, they behave like alert soldiers who are expected to fight for every inch of territory.

“I had an exposure to this phenomenon while working for a Planning Commission sub-committee on vocational education for skill development. Vocational and technical training is a chaotic corner of our education system. Seventeen Ministries are involved in such training but the overall coverage is poor in both numbers and quality.

“The Ministry of Labour controls Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) where secondary level children receive technical training. A small proportion of higher secondary schools also offers vocational courses. Joint courses given by schools and ITIs are unheard of, apparently because the two institutions have separate directorates. This is a common and continuous story. When a Ministry launches a new scheme, it seldom takes into account the schemes under which other Ministries might be addressing the same problem.”


Prevention Action
Although it’s a study pertaining to conditions existing in the UK, it’s possible that some of these findings are universal for children. An excerpt:
“The link between the family context and children’s psychological development is well established. There are known connections between levels of psychological adjustment (particularly in relation to their emotions and behaviour) and factors such as parental mental illness and divorce — as well as inter-parental conflict. However, investigations such as those by Cardiff's School of Psychology are extending the range of the known effects by unpicking the broader family context and examining other aspects of children’s development.

“The findings suggest that children living in households characterized by high levels of inter-parental conflict are indeed at risk of lower attainment at school, and, importantly, that children’s own appraisal of their parents’ conflict and their tendency to blame themselves for what they see happening is the mechanism through which any damage is done. Self-blaming was found to lead to lower academic attainment and, in some cases, to aggressive behaviour.

“Some clear lessons for researchers, practitioners and policy makers are emerging. For example, the finding that the inter-parental relationship has a direct influence on the development of the child is a strong argument for early intervention, particularly in light of the fact that academic success is consistently shown to be an important predictor of adult adjustment.”


By Harsh Mander

This article, which appeared in The Hindu, discusses findings of a recent study titled ‘Planning Families, Planning Gender’ supported by Action Aid India and the International Development Research Centre, Canada. An excerpt:
“The law prohibiting these practices is openly flouted; researchers discovered a close nexus between local government nurses and doctors, and unscrupulous private radiologists and gynaecologists.

“The agents for eliminating daughters are frequently women — midwives, mothers-in-law and even mothers — but the study illustrates that women rarely are empowered to make independent choices. A range of kin, especially elders, and even neighbours, choose if a girl is to be allowed to live.

“Another irony highlighted by the study: the unintended consequences of key government health strategies, such as promoting small families, prenatal care including ultrasound checkups, and legalising abortions.

“The authors explain this puzzle by the socio-cultural practices which prescribe that a girl leaves her parental home after marriage, so that her husband's family gains rights over her productive and care labour and her reproductive capacities. Dowries add to the cost of ‘giving her away'. There is less a son-preference, and more an aversion to daughters, who are a certain economic loss.

“A further paradox is that progressive policies such as inheritance rights for women, and higher age of marriage, make them even more of an economic ‘liability', since expenditure on them and property owned by them will only benefit another family. It is mainly for economic, material reasons that we are taking away the lives of our daughters, which override all other emotional and ethical considerations.”
  • Compiled by Jeeno P. Jacob, Programme Anchor — Dream Mentoring Programme | Dream A Dream

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