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The Policy Action Network: Children (PAN: Children) is an initiative hosted by the Research Use and Impact Assessment Unit (RIA) of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and was established together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD).
UNICEF and the HSRC have agreed to work together in a non-exclusive relationship, to establish and maintain a policy-oriented knowledge-hub on children’s rights and equity in South Africa. The knowledge-hub aims to provide high-quality, timely information to inform decision-making and policy in practice in relation to children. Importantly, it will strengthen the dialogue between suppliers and users of child-related evidence in order to bridge the gap between suppliers and users of child-related evidence offered by research and evaluation bodies. This knowledge-hub is primarily targeted at South African policy makers and government officials involved in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes relating to children, as well as academia working on issues related to child rights and equity. The secondary audience includes civil society organizations, private sector and development sector professionals involved in the advancement of child rights. Lastly, the hub will also allow other countries with an interest in South African policy to easily access relevant information.
The lack of a specific knowledge hub on children has been recognised by various stakeholders in the field. The 2010 National Stakeholders Meeting on Equity and Child Rights (UNICEF 2010) called for “an easily accessible platform that collates data, research and international best practices relating to supporting children and women”. Likewise, the 2011 Child Poverty Roundtable organized by the Presidency, Department of Social Development and UNICEF (PSPPD, 2011) posed that the “systematic gathering and storage of data and evidence is crucial for driving an evidence-based national agenda for children.” It recommended the establishment of a community of practice in child poverty research and policy development. At this time, the HSRC, with funding from the South African Department of Science and Technology, had already established the original Policy Action Network. This entity seeks to support the policy community as a whole by sourcing information, monitoring developments and contributing to rigour in policymaking as well as to greater participation in the policy-making process. HSRC and UNICEF have agreed to create a parallel and complementary portal specifically aimed at attaining these outcomes in areas pertaining to child rights.
PAN: Children Aims
• To bring together the best available knowledge on the situation of children in South Africa, with a particular emphasis on the drivers and determinants of inequities in the fulfillment of child rights;
• To provide practical understanding and advice on designing, implementing and evaluating policies and programme interventions to address child poverty, inequities and systemic bottlenecks by drawing on national and international good practices and lessons learned, especially from countries similar to South Africa;
• To improve linkages between researchers and policy makers and planners and to improve the capacity of both researchers and policy makers to engage with each other on issues around child rights
Principles and Beliefs
• There is a growing belief that knowledge-sharing plays a pivotal role in placing children’s rights on the political agenda.
• Increasing the use of evidence-based policy making contributes to addressing systemic constraints in achieving the fulfillment of child rights, • Sharing experiences and knowledge by stimulating dialogue and debate amongst stakeholders thus contributes to better policy-making.
• In South Africa, a gap typically exists between the research community and the policy-making community, but the notion of evidence-based policy making is gradually taking hold
• There is a need for research or information to be appropriately packaged and disseminated in order for it to be useful.
As indicated above, PAN: Children is hosted by the Science Communication Unit of the Research Use and Impact Assessment Unit (RIA). RIA consolidates the dissemination and knowledge management activities of the HSRC into a single unit. It plays a strategic role in supporting researchers in maximizing the impact of their research by engaging in activities such as knowledge exchange, synthesis and application. RIA comprises the following Units: Science Communication, Impact Assessment, Corporate Communication and the HSRC Press.
UNICEF is an international organization with a focus on child rights programming including policy advocacy. UNICEF and HSRC share a commitment to the principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. They are both committed to the principles of Government ownership of the development agenda reflected in the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness. HSRC shares UNICEF’s commitment to fostering an active local civil society in South Africa and to supporting capacity-building efforts for local civil society organizations. They are mindful of local custom and culture. Both UNICEF and the HSRC are committed to participatory and sustainable development and to providing assistance impartially. They acknowledge their accountabilities to those whom they assist and those who provide support to their work. They are committed to ensuring that they do not expose intended beneficiaries, including children, to any form of discrimination, abuse or exploitation.
PAN Children contributes to both HSRC and UNICEF’s positioning in a broad societal role and aims to become a premier dissemination and knowledge-sharing platform providing a unique service and functioning as a gateway to publications from similar organizations.
• To establish and maintain an online platform
• To create and continuously review and update a series of user friendly topical guides intended primarily as a reference to policy-makers. These guides will summarise the current child rights climate in South Africa and highlight practical guidance, lessons learned and case studies to address challenges that are impeding progress.
• To establish, populate and maintain an up-to-date collection of the most credible publications available on child rights in South Africa.
• To facilitate engagement, dialogue and networking through activities complementing the knowledge hub such as seminars, roundtables and workshops •
To create, facilitate and maintain a community of practice (a moderated electronic space allowing people, individuals or representatives of different stakeholders to discuss or deepen their knowledge and expertise by interacting on an ongoing basis on issues related to child rights in South Africa
In establishing a community of practice, PAN: Children wishes to interaction between stakeholders from various levels. Through a simple registration process, you can become a member. In doing so, you will be able to participate in online discussions and will receive regular email updates regarding upcoming events, new online resources, literature reviews and more.