Monday, November 2, 2009
We are pleased to announce a new partnership with Dr. Belle Liang, PhD., an Associate Professor at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. Dr. Liang, along with her research team – Sophia, Helen, Rachel, Nicole, and Miao – will be collaborating with Kaya Children on a study of school experiences with street-involved youth, helping us analyze data collected over the summer by a team of medical students from the University of Rochester. The purpose of this study is to develop a deeper understanding of the relationships of street-involved youth in La Paz, Bolivia and the local school system, particularly addressing factors associated with student drop-out.
School drop-out is a major factor leading children to full time life on the streets in Bolivia. According to Executive Director Kristin Huang’s dissertation research, despite the fact that school is an incredible opportunity to intervene and promote youth resilience, many street children rarely view school as a positive alternative to home life. However, while street children dislike school, they do highly value education. This suggests that because street children assign so much value to being able to graduate from high school and “become somebody,” a positive school experience would help them in other aspects of their lives.
One of Kaya Children’s goals is to “conduct, disseminate and encourage research that informs best practice with street-involved children.” To this end, we partner with universities to facilitate research that allows us to understand what is most effective in intervention and work to translate these findings to practical plans of action for practitioners in the field. Our partnership with the Boston College research team especially demonstrates this value in action, to which many of the team members attest. Helen, agrees that “this willingness for partnership proves significant in that a symbiotic relationship of intervention with research would increase efficiency and reduce duplications in service, raise global awareness, and translate successful qualities of Kaya’s intervention to diverse organizations in the world.” Sophie explains that “as a team dedicated to advancing social justice through every aspect of our work, we are particularly excited to partner with Kaya in seeking to give voice to disempowered youth around the world, and working with larger systems to bring about meaningful social change.”
Through this partnership we will be able to have high quality research analysis done, while engaging with local universities to raise awareness of the situation in Bolivia with street children. This research will not only inform scholars of the needs of street-involved youth, but will also provide practitioners with meaningful and accessible material so that they can develop effective programs to help reinforce children’s transition processes off the streets and to strategically intervene before children establish full lives on the streets. “The large number of children living on the streets in Bolivia has been a significant social issue. Withdrawing from the school system, these children are facing the risk of losing their opportunity for education, and make the process of reaching out of poverty much more difficult, which produces a vicious circle. [This partnership] is a great opportunity to adjust the organizational system, and work toward the promotion of social justice work,” says Miao.