University of Mons, Faculty of Psychology and Education (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 5141-5149
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.1352
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
In the world today, more than 150 million vulnerable children live on the streets. Because of the death of a parent, a family breakdown, a war, a natural disaster or socio-economic difficulties, they had to leave their home in order to get money to survive or to search to find for a better daily life. Their living conditions are often characterized by violence, deficit of education, drug and alcohol abuse. Some of them work or beg during the day but return to some form of family at night. Others permanently live on the street, without any family network (Unesco, 2017).

According to the International Labour Organization, 3.3 million children can be qualified as workers in Peru (33% of them are under 12 years) and 141 000 children still work in the streets of the country. Therefore, this situation can be considered as a large-scale phenomenon and as a challenge that deserve particular attention on national and international levels (Child Rights International Network, 2007). In Peru, many NGOs work on poverty, improvement of nutrition or health education but only a few seem particularly concerned with the specific situation of these street children.

How to bring education to these children? How to boost their self-esteem? How to restore their confidence in life? How to enable them to make plans for the future? The disaffection for the school is evident, notably because of the refusal of the rules. Non-formal initiatives seem therefore to be the only way to address these legitimate concerns.

This communication presents the results of a qualitative research conducted in Lima. Our sample included 7 young boys aged between 13 and 18 years. All of them were in a street situation. Our aim was to understand how they perceived their daily life and what role the education could have on their development and future prospects. The drawing was used to approach subjects’ representations of their experiences from different perspectives. The researcher was present to encourage the verbalization on their artistic production. We individually and transversely analyzed the data to answer our research questions.

Our results show that the street is an intense experience for these children: a source of anguish for some but also of “belonging” to others. The danger is often underlined with lucidity and reduces the attractiveness of this environment for these young people in search of freedom. The links with the family are always very ambiguous even if the attachment to the maternal figure seems rather important. The belonging to the peer group is therefore the only way to shift to a new survival mode. More and more, they adopt the way of functioning of their peers and enjoy fewer opportunities for individual thought and self-development. In this context, it is not surprising that some of our subjects had real difficulties to project themselves in the future when they were invited to draw it alone. Broadly speaking, they generally have few opportunities to discuss about important facts of life and they often give up making medium or long term plans. Talking about their future in a non-formal educational context reactivated their needs of personal development. They seemed to realize that they will soon be adults responsible of their life and how it should be a priority to develop their skills to find their own way. Through our action, they accepted to think their life beyond the current day and to imagine new educational options for their future.
Non-formal educational initiatives, Street children, Peru.