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Does Shame and Stigma Undermine Children’s Learning?


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Does shame and stigma undermine children’s learning? Evidence from four low- and middle-income countries

Presented to the 4th International Conferenece on Regulating for Decent Work, ILO, July 2015

Paul Dornan and Maria Jose Ogando Portela,

Published in: Education
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Does Shame and Stigma Undermine Children’s Learning?

  1. 1. Does shame and stigma undermine children’s learning? Evidence from four low- and middle- income countries July 2015 Paul Dornan and Maria Jose Ogando Portela,
  2. 2. Background 1. Young Lives is a longitudinal study of child poverty 2. The social protection floor and decent work agendas and widened interest in multidimensional poverty in SDGs 3. Recent policy attention to: (a) human capital development, (b) inequalities, (c) behaviour and decision making -> poverty induced shame important to these debates. If shame affects how children and families engage in communities and/or with policies, it will affect life chances 4. Aim: examine the following questions quantitatively using multi- country data: (a). What is associated with children’s reported feelings of shame and stigma? (b). How is earlier shame associated with later learning?
  3. 3. Study countries 1. One low-income country (Ethiopia), two lower-middle- income countries (Vietnam and India), and one upper- middle-income country (Peru) 2. Experiences of relatively fast economic growth with falling absolute poverty rates in decade after 2000 but ongoing vulnerability 3. Increased basic services and scope of public interventions and policy innovation: social protection (PSNP, Juntos, MGNREGA, health insurance) 4. Ongoing marginalisation (poverty and ethnicity/ caste) and questions about inclusivity of growth, effectiveness of public services and growing privatisation in schooling in some countries
  4. 4. AGES: 1 5 8 12 15 YOUNGERCOHORT Following 2,000 children OLDERCOHORT Following 1,000 children AGES: 8 12 15 19 22 Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 2002 2006 2009 2013 2016 Young Lives cohort study Same age children at different time points Qualitative nested sample 1 2 3 4 Linked school surveys
  5. 5. Advantages and limitations of the data for this question Advantages 1. Longitudinal approach 2. Detailed multicounty data 3. Qualitative and quantitative data 4. Data collected directly from children as well as caregivers Limitations 1. Reliant on available questions 2. Techniques identify underlying associations, but not causal analysis 3. Analysis not tied to specific programmes 4. Sentinel site, not national random sampling
  6. 6. Analytic approach Poor children feel shy in front of their friends because they don’t wear clothes and shoes the same as them. They dislike interacting with rich children. They hate their school and their living areas Quote from a focus group of girls in Addis Ababa aged 16- 17 Quantitative approach: 1. Define/ operationalize ‘shame’ 2. Identify what was associated with shame at 12 years 3. Identify associations between shame at 12 years, and learning indicators at 12 years and at 15 years
  7. 7. Measure of shame Housing: 'I feel proud to show my friends or other visitors where I live’ Clothing: 'I am ashamed of my clothes‘ School: 'I am often embarrassed because I do not have the right books, pencils and other equipment for school' Work: 'The job I do makes me feel proud' Index 8 questions which measure children’s feelings in domains of their lives. Questions are indirectly related to poverty 1. Measuring ‘shame’ at 12 years of age
  8. 8. 0 20406080 100% (poorest) 2 3 4 (least poor) Ethiopia 0 20406080 100% (poorest) 2 3 4 (least poor) Andhra Pradesh 0 20406080 100% (poorest) 2 3 4 (least poor) Peru 0 20406080 100% (poorest) 2 3 4 (least poor) Vietnam Poor children more likely to feel shame 2. Which children report shame at 12 years old? Simple descriptive analysis: -> Poverty and parental education level both associated with shame. Nationally specific patterns by location, ethnicity and gender. Regression results: -> Consumption level and parental education remain important. -> In an extended model, feelings of inclusion and caregiver’s higher feelings of shame also important.
  9. 9. 3. How was earlier shame associated with learning? – approach • Examine associations between shame reported at 12 years and learning (and related) outcomes at 12 and whether associations persist at 15 years. • At 15 years we take account also of prior achievement levels and so measure change after 12 and before 15 years • Multivariate analysis account for key household and child circumstances, including the index of shame
  10. 10. 3. How was earlier shame associated with learning? – findings On top of other household and child circumstances, including poverty: -> At 12 years • Evidence linking shame with lower maths, vocabulary, and reading/writing simple sentence performance in three countries (not Vietnam), significant in half the models tested. -> By 15 years • Shame at 12 years associated with lower maths, vocabulary by 15 years. Also with school exit in Andhra Pradesh (only), again significant in half the models tested. • When controlling for prior scores, disadvantage persists– suggesting change between 12 and 15 years • Shame felt at 12 years predicts shame felt at 15 years in two countries, but strongly only in one (Peru), suggesting potential for change
  11. 11. Implications Findings: • Household expenditure and parental education were each independently associated with feelings of shame at age 12. It is likely that feelings of inclusion are also important. There is also an association between parental and child feelings of shame. • Examining associations between shame and learning indicators, suggests evidence shame was associated with independent effects on learning with some evidence from each country, and across different measures. Implications: 1. Shame/ stigma cause indignity. Contribution of this evidence is to highlight potential impacts on human capital development also. Consistent with more inclusive systems producing better human development 2. Specifically shame/stigma likely to be one way undermining social mobility 3. Building knowledge about mechanisms linking shame and human development – in research and in policy evaluations
  12. 12. Thank you