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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Active Citizenship

In August 2012 Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission (NPC) speaking at Stellenbosch University said, 'We need active citizenship in South Africa. If you don’t care about democracy, why should the government care? All citizens should be engaged with society'.This is a new section on the Policy Action Network (PAN) portal and we are in the process of uploading documents which broadly address this subject area. If you would like to submit documents including case studies on active citizenship send them to [email protected].

Related publications

Children as advocates

This Handbook is a practical tool for UNICEF and partners in promoting and strengthening child participation in global advocacy. It is based on many years of experiences and lessons learnt. It incorporates minimum standards, protocols and guidelines that UNICEF has used to guide this process.

This toolkit is mainly aimed at governments, international agencies and NGOs who want to involve or consult with children in a meaningful way. It is not intended for project workers or researchers working on their own unless they are involved in structured consultations or focus group work. It is designed to create a participatory environment in which children can express their views and take part in policy debates and consultations rather than being about participatory learning.

This discussion paper sets out the framework and guidelines for the foundation on the drafting of a new nonprofit organisations’ legal framework that will regulate the nonprofit sector in South Africa.

Peer education has long been seen as a key health promotion strategy and important mechanism to challenge and shift youth behavioural norms, especially for those issues not easily discussed between adults and youth. Over many years of programme implementation, globally and in South Africa, empirical evidence regarding its efficacy has been difficult to obtain. At best peer education programmes have been shown to aid peer educators in a number of important ways but evidence for change in those who take part as peer learners has been elusive.  Fundamentally the study asked what doors do peer education open that are not usually opened in the course of teacher-led educational interventions. This study answers this question by showing how this peer education programme in particular has opened doors regarding increased levels of knowledge and discussion amongst youth, improved measures of self-efficacy regarding sexual decision making and heightened sensitivities amongst young people regarding their need for help and support. 


The annual report highlights the main accomplishments and results UNICEF achieved in South Africa during 2013, with special features such as infographics and human interest stories. UNICEF’s work is aligned with the South African Government’s Medium-Term Strategic Framework for 2009–2014, including its 12 priority outcomes and the priorities outlined in the National Development Plan. Within this context, UNICEF focuses on reducing inequities, addressing child poverty and promoting children’s rights.


Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths sets out a vision of a world in which there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth celebrated, and women, babies and children survive, thrive and reach their full potential. Nearly 3 million lives could be saved each year if the actions in the plan are implemented and its goals and targets achieved. Based on evidence of what works, and developed within the framework for Every Woman Every Child, the plan enhances and supports coordinated, comprehensive planning and implementation of newborn-specific actions within the context of national reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health strategies and action plans, and in collaboration with stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, professional associations and others. The goal is to achieve equitable and high-quality coverage of care for all women and newborns through links with other global and national plans, measurement and accountability. 

All countries in the world acknowledge the universality of the right to education and South Africa (SA) is no exception. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) as Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989,(2) every child has a right to free and compulsory basic education. How successful has SA been in ensuring the realisation of this right? Does the legal, political, economic and social environment in the country promote or constrain this right? Above all, based on what is currently happening in the country, can it be convincingly concluded that the state is committed to the fulfilment of this right for every child? This CAI paper looks at the current South African education environment and examines if such an environment promotes or constrains the realisation of the right to education. CONTINUE READING

The fifth edition of the State of Local Governance from the Good Governance Learning Network which argues that people can and should be in control of their own development, not in isolation from the state or other civic actors, but in direct conversation or, at times, in contestation with these other actors. This requires the design of well-constructed, yet organic, processes that are able to mediate power, difference and diversity in a manner that brings forth transformative outcomes. This publication aims to demonstrate such processes at grassroots level. This edition is dedicated to a subject considered a building block in the national government’s vision for the country and explores how the notion of active citizenship can serve as an analytical concept to review the nature and quality of participatory local democracy in South Africa.

This journal article uses a dispute between a school and the state in contemporary South Africa to examine the complex nature of the relationship between the state and its citizens. It argues that this relationship is best understood as a set of shifting arrangements of authority between bureaucratic institutions, political personalities, the judiciary and, most significantly, South Africa’s citizens themselves. Suggests that traditional models of the state have underestimated the agency of ordinary citizens and that the dispute examined reveals how their actions – made possible by the presumption of their equality with the state and its agents – can influence the development of a local or national political order.

This 48-page study examines the legal frameworks and political space for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in selected countries in order to suggest appropriate approaches for supporting civil society in difficult political contexts. Cases examined were Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Uganda.

The South African Child Gauge is published annually by the Children’s Institute, University of Cape, to monitor government and civil society’s progress towards realising children’s rights. This issue focuses on children and inequality.It was launched on the 17th October 2012.This document is divided into three parts:

PART ONE: Children and law reform Part one discusses recent legislative developments affecting children. This issue comments on litigation and law reform in relation to the Children’s Act; the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act; the Social Assistance Act regulations; the National Health Act; and the Traditional Courts Bill. See pages 14 – 19.

PART TWO: Children and inequality: Closing the gap Part two presents 10 essays – the first four essays set the scene by defining children’s equality rights and explaining the nature and extend of inequality, the spatial dimensions of child deprivation in South Africa, and the impact of place, care and migration on children’s lives. The following five essays outline the potential of particular policies and programmes to reduce inequalities amongst South Africa’s children, including social grants, early childhood development services, access to health care, HIV treatment and prevention services, and access to quality education. The final essay reflects on emerging opportunities and challenges, and critical considerations for policy. See pages 22 – 77.

PART THREE: Children Count – the numbers Part three updates a set of key indicators on children’s socio-economic rights and provides commentary on the extent to which these rights have been realised. The indicators are a special subset selected from the website See pages 80 – 105.

This is one of the most definative and widely utilised South African child rights documents, providing a concise and focused synopsis of the situation of children throughout the country.

SAVE THE DATE:. On 4 March 2016 the Africa Evidence Network and PAN Children are hosting a roadshow at the Human Sciences Research Council  (HSRC) offices in Cape Town. We have invited researchers, policy makers, parliamentary representatives and civil society. The event centres around the value of networks and building capacity in the use of evidence in decision-making across government. Ample time has been allocated to discussion and joining the networks. Please RSVP [email protected] or [email protected]. Note that the event can also be attended via videoconferencing facilities at the HSRC's Durban and Pretoria offices, with a webstreaming facility also be set up.

REMINDER of Youth Day seminar today at 12h30.

In the context of Youth Month this seminar asks how youth activism has changed over the past 39 years since the student uprising that began in Soweto in 1976 – over (ostensibly) the issue of the medium of instruction in schools for black youth. Today we ask youth activists from three universities in South Africa to reflect on their experiences on education and transformation. The call to transform South Africa’s academic institutions is on the rise country wide in the wake of the Rhodes Must Fall movement. The transformation agenda is engendering a new form of youth educational activism that is focusing on issues, inter alia, curriculum reform; demographic diversity within the academy; institutional culture and institutional naming. The seminar seeks to engage the voices of students on these and other pertinent issues related to education and transformation in post-apartheid South Africa.

The Citizens Movement was established by senior leaders from politics, academia, business and civil society, under the leadership of founder Dr Mamphela Ramphele, with the aim of building an engaged and active citizenry by building momentum around key areas that affect South African society. The Citizens Movement will:

  • Develop a portal of information that any citizen can access and contribute to
  • Use tools available through social and digital media platforms for face to face engagement that will raise the profile of issues with decision makers and citizens 
  • Provide co-ordinated campaigns for dialogue, direct engagement and peaceful action through an integrated approach using TV, radio, print, website, polls, surveys, mobi and smses.

This publication offers a number of insights and methodologies related to community-led initiatives for engagement with the local state and for local development, collaborative planning, social accountability tools and other models for community involvement in local development. The contributions are based on existing practices and emerging areas of work of member organisations of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN). The contributions in this edited volume, in some way or other, all point to the need for reconceptualising the relationship between the local state and communities in overcoming the ‘governance deficit’. Ultimately, this publication reinforces the imperative to fundamentally rethink what is meant by public participation based on an appreciation of the notion of active citizenship. 

In this issue of From Evidence to Action we focus on PAN: Children, a knowledge portal launched just over a year ago in a partnership between UNICEF and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Our Feature traces the ideas and inspiration behind the portal, where we are after a year online and our plans to expand PAN: Children’s facilities and reach. As a learning network we have consulted widely with experts and other platforms and our Case Study highlights an expert retreat and exchange we held in May 2013 where we refined our strategic plans and grappled with issues around policy influencing and key institutional arrangements which we need to put in place. We shine our Spotlight On PAN: Children’s topical guides, the rationale behind them and how they can be updated by online users. Under Toolkits and guidelines we have sourced some useful documents on children’s participation, one of the priority areas for PAN: Children. Our Resources Section collates information about events, opportunities and related documents.

Child participation

This selective and annotated bibliography presents resources on child and youth participation from Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, Australia and the Pacific. The main audiences for this resource guide are practitioners and managers involved in promoting child and youth participation in government, community-based organizations, child-led organizations, NGOs and UN and donor agencies.

Government policy & legislation

This discussion paper sets out the framework and guidelines for the foundation on the drafting of a new nonprofit organisations’ legal framework that will regulate the nonprofit sector in South Africa.