Indicators for Children’s Rights







8. Towards a monitoring system


The main objective of our research was to evaluate existing data on children’s
issues as they relate to the rights of children, with a view to identifying
potential indicators for monitoring children’s rights.

Although the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child does not establish
standards for monitoring of children’s rights, the Committee on the Rights
of the Child has called for a valid system of indicators to provide information

  • The current status of and living conditions of children;
  • The advances made towards fulfilling children’s rights.

Furthermore, comments to the State Parties Report of Zimbabwe made by
the UN. Committee on the Rights of the Child, include the following:

The committee notes with concern the lack of an effective mechanism
to ensure systematic implementation of the Convention and the monitoring
of progress achieved. Insufficient measures have been taken to gather reliable
quantitative and qualitative data in all areas covered by the Convention
and in relation to all groups of children, particularly those belonging
to the most disadvantaged groups (item 14 in CRC/C/15/Add.55 page 3).


The issue of the monitoring body

In Zimbabwe it is not clear which body actually monitors children’s rights
and welfare. As we write this Report, there is a debate focused on the roles
of the National Programme of Action (NPA) and the Child Welfare Forum. Both
bodies seem to have the same mandate and therefore deal with the same or
similar issues and have similar sub-committees which make use of similar
people as members to each. The welfare of children is a theme for both the
Ministry of Health (in which the NPA is housed and to which it reports)
and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (to which
the Child Welfare Forum reports).

The NPA seems to be marginalised within the Ministry of Health. It is
a small department run by two people. Furthermore, according to the comments
in the initial State Parties Report, the NPA has no legal instrument or
backing. Instead the legal clout is with the Department of Social Welfare,
in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, to which the
Child Welfare Forum reports.

This debate has not been finalised. Instead the issue has been referred
to the respective ministries.


The current understanding of monitoring in Zimbabwe

Currently the understanding of monitoring children’s rights in Zimbabwe
differs markedly from the position taken in this Report, which advocates
for routine data gathering , making use of indicators that are specific
to children’s rights and paying attention to community-based mechanisms
of data collection. The current understanding of monitoring in official
circles, on the other hand, advocates the use of sentinel site surveys.
We would suggest that there are a number of problems associated with such

  • They are currently general surveys and the data are not children-centred;
  • Surveys do not always take place as planned, either because of lack
    of funding, or because the funding and human resources are based outside
    the country, or the funding does not arrive ion time from a foreign source;

  • Surveys from one year to another do not always use the same sample
    and often have a different focus, so that some issues are not followed
    year-on-year, some are surveyed only once;

  • Surveys do not make use of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
    as an organizational framework.


Comments and recommendations: beyond CRC reporting

In the data we examined we noted some overall problems that would need
to be solved before a routine monitoring system could be put in place. These
include the following:

  • There is no inter-sectorial baseline for data. Each ministry or department
    has their own baseline depending on what they want to measure;

  • Each ministry or department runs different and isolated studies;
  • Some data depend only on national census reports which are done once
    every 10 years, which are not significant in the light of the developmental
    nature of childhood;

  • Data are not compared between sectors. For example, between child employment,
    child health, household and education there are important linkages that
    could be highly informative on the topic of child labour. Yet these linkages
    are not made;

  • Paradoxically, it was also clear that similar indicators exist in different
    departments and ministries, but with different parameters. The data are
    duplicated, but cannot be meaningfully compared.

  • Data and or indicators are listed, with little concern for what they
    actually mean;

  • Data are not children-centred, even though they could become so with
    recalculation in many cases;

  • There has been a great effort in trying to desegregate data in terms
    of sectors, ages and sex. This is particularly with those data in health
    and education. However, emphasis though tends to be put in terms of, for
    example, which children have been captured by an immunization campaign
    and not on those missed out, providing childhood indicators but not children’s
    rights indicators;

  • Many so-called national statistics are based on small-scale, non-repeated

  • Data on children’s rights are not timely and frequently collected,
    processed and used. Some of the data that we collected are still being
    used even though they relate to the 1980s. Such data no longer reflect
    the real situation on the rights of children. We therefore recommend the
    establishment of routine data gathering systems.

In order to develop a national routine monitoring system for children’s
rights, we should like to make the following broad recommendations. Specific
recommendations have been made throughout the text.

  • There is need for more research to gather more data. In some areas
    there is a critical scarcity of data on children’s rights issues. In other
    areas, although data are available they are inadequate;

  • The data should be made children centred. We recommend that in future
    when national data are being gathered children’s issues must become a prime
    focus and not be marginalised within, for example, families or households.

  • Baseline information for monitoring children’s rights in Zimbabwe should
    be developed to cover the whole range of provisions of the Convention on
    the Rights of the Child, which should be used as a framework for conceptualization
    and data organization. The OAU African Charter should be taken into consideration
    in this process, so that a single monitoring system can be developed for
    both instrument, once the Charter has come into force;

  • A routine data collection and analysis system for children’s rights
    should become part of government statistical practices, with time periods
    set at levels relevant to the rights concerned and not simply five year
    intervals for reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

  • The data must be coordinated between sectors and thematically linked,
    within the framework of the Convention. We recommend that in future national
    data gathering, processing and analysis should show differences and similarities
    between data from different sectors.

  • Data must address the traditional context within which they are gathered,
    processed and used.

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