Introduction African Childhoods: Education, Development, Peacebuilding, and the Youngest Continent

  • Marisa O. Ensor


With 70% of its people under the age of 30, and approximately 147 million children under the age of five (UNICEF 2008, 49), Africa1 is the world’s youngest continent. Informed understandings of the implications of this so-called African “youth bulge” have been hampered by the shortage of detailed research on the issue. Inquiry into the lives and social circumstances of children and youth around the world has increased significantly in recent decades, spearheaded by the emergence of a “social science of childhood” in the 1980s and the widespread ratification of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This evolving focus of investigation on children issues, however, has been largely confined to the Global North. The limited corpus of reliable research on Africa’s youngest citizens has tended to adopt a negative outlook. Given Africa’s turbulent realities, this pessimistic viewpoint is not entirely unwarranted, but, as the chapters in this book illustrate, it fails to acknowledge encouraging current trends toward brighter possibilities.


Young People African Child Street Child Violent Conflict African Society 
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© Marisa O. Ensor 2012

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  • Marisa O. Ensor

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