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organised geographically around country programmes. This has served to provide a degree of coherence and complementarity to programming, and is easily comprehensible to partner and peer organisations, and individuals in the countries concerned. But working geographically has also imposed certain limitations. For example, it has been difficult to learn as much across regions as we would like, even when approaches are fairly similar. This has, in turn, made the task of documentation and communication more complicated, and has limited the cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches among partner organisations. During the last few years, staff have sought to counter this sole emphasis on geographic portfolios by identifying themes of common interest across regions. During 2002-2006, we will pursue such themes in a more organised manner, adjusting structures and practices as necessary. We will also be open to new themes that arise from the field. The origin of such themes is simple: our entire programme of support for project work places the child at the centre, with child development and well-being as the ultimate goal of all of our efforts. In this, we keep two core considerations in mind: that the work seeks to strengthen the circles of support around the child (family, community, services, legal framework); and that it focuses on, and is adapted to, cultural and contextual variation. Strengthening the circles of support around the child is the principal work of the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Within this, Foundation staff members and partner organisations discuss the best practices that have been identified, the problems that are being encountered, and the challenges and opportunities presented by a changing world. Current interest is focusing, in particular, on themes such as: • approaches to parent and family support; • gender in relation to the family and child

development (for example, the role of fathers); and • promoting the well-being of children affected by ⁄. Focusing on contextual and cultural variation and adaptation is an abiding interest of the Foundation. Working in 40 countries, we realise that local context and culture are of great importance in children’s development, particularly in situations of rapid cultural change or the coexistence of different belief systems. We also recognise particular problems. For example, as we promote parents and caregivers as the first teachers and socialisers of young children, we know that, when they are from minority or marginalised groups, they often find themselves fighting an unequal battle with majority or global cultural norms and practices. In response, we work closely with partner organisations to examine issues of context and culture before intervening, and to monitor them as the work evolves. We do not, however, believe that any situation is unique in every way, and in fact the documentation and communication strand of our work is based on the belief that close observation and thoughtful analysis in any field context will yield lessons that are of interest to others elsewhere. In terms of contextual and cultural variation and adaptation we find the following themes of current interest: • respect for diversity; • growing up in indigenous communities; and • children’s rights in their local contexts. Developing work on key themes into initiatives Some of the themes that we will be focusing on in the coming years will be taken further: we will develop them into comprehensive, multiyear ‘Initiatives’. These will systematically explore themes in considerable depth, and typically be programmes of cross-project

Bernard van Leer Foundation

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An n u a l R e p o r t

Annual Report 2001  

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2001. With reports on the Effectiveness Initiative, Tracer Studies, the Oscar van Leer A...

Annual Report 2001  

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2001. With reports on the Effectiveness Initiative, Tracer Studies, the Oscar van Leer A...