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The most common documents are extracts from civil status records:. If you are unmarried, you can use this certificate as proof. If you got married under Muslim law, you can get this document from the Khadi court. Have your document legalised by the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once your document has been legalised by the Kenyan authorities it can be used in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. These differences between religion as well as regions also coincided with similar findings in the adult population.

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However when we look at the breakdown between factors, no noticeable trends were discovered for any factor that would point to why children did not have certificates. The same argument can be made for differences between schools. Although significant, consideration of other contextual aspects did not indicate any one reason that could be attributed to different rates of registration. In turn, when we look to our previous adult dataset we see that in fact there is not a correspondence between the highest registered schools and relative rates of registration in their wider regions.

Rather, this appeared to be mainly tied to parent personal belief in importance of registration itself. As discussed in our previous paper, this present situation whereby parents do not take action unless there is a pending need or positive benefit leads to the present issue witnessed in Kenya and many other developing regions of a significant time gap wherein children go without documentation. This same time period—in the present case roughly fourteen years—is also the ages whereby a child would most benefit from the health and social protections afforded by being recorded and identified by the government.

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Regarding what children themselves know about registration or need of birth certificates, here the most noticeable finding may be the simple fact that children appeared highly informed regarding the need and procedures for securing a certificate. Interestingly, this number of correct respondents was actually higher among students than their parents, where only Over half of students could also give examples of other children who had certificates. This difference might of course be interpreted as the product of a number of factors.

It is possible that this reflects the, possibly unfounded, confidence of youth—note that we did not check whether they actually did have a birth certificate. Parents may also have had lower actual awareness than was found among children—a rather intriguing predicament. More plausibly, adults may have had higher embarrassment or unwillingness to give a candid answer, especially in negative registration cases [ 17 ], thus again pointing to the knowledge that might be gained from asking children about activity of their parents.

Interestingly, this mention of health workers and local government as primary sources coincides with our finding among parents. When looking to answers regarding why one needed a certificate, there also appeared to be a lack of clarity, with a roughly even breakdown of answers between the given choices of either its basic legal requirement, its need in order to be recognized as a citizen, or for exam registration.

This suggests a slight difference in understanding or awareness from parents, where most were able to articulate that registration or certification were necessary in order for identification or citizenship. However, among parents we also did find essentially the same number claiming the basic importance for school enrollment. Children also did not seem to know when one should get a certificate with even distribution between the given choices, and did not appear to have a strong awareness of who was responsible, with only a third claiming their parents. The remainder mostly mentioned nurses or health attendants who also are traditional means of registration, especially in hospital births.

The findings raise another interesting angle regarding children and their parents. While children appeared to be informed about the basic need and purpose of registration, they did not appear highly knowledgeable about the role that should be played by their parents in securing registration.

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Our findings regarding knowledge or awareness questions might be taken as an indicator of an information gap in communication between parents, community and children when considering actual choice to pursue certification. Again, children without certificates were more likely to say that the purpose of a certificate was for school exam registration and less likely to frame its importance around citizenship or identification than were those presently with certificates.

This might be read to suggest that children and potentially parents who had not certified were only now becoming aware of registration or certificate importance as a result of school involvement. This is also supported by our finding of significant difference in source of information, with those not registered mentioning schools as their primary source of information.

The same pattern was also found in our study of the adult population, in which a significant distribution was found regarding source of information and successful registration of all children, and where those parents who listed chiefs or health facilities registered at a much higher rate than those who listed schools as their primary source. The above finding also leads to a handful of compelling questions. First, it may be that some communities had better established structures for communication or collaboration between citizens, government and children whereby they were made aware of the need for registration from the moment of birth.

In addition, it is potentially important to discover whether the source of knowledge or awareness was the result of the actions of government representatives, parents or another third party. Alternatively, the finding of awareness of the chief as a source of information among children also raises the question of why these children became informed.


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That is, was this knowledge passed directly to children, or learned via their parents? An answer aligning especially to the former might suggest that having informed children, who can then better interact regarding this topic, may lead to quicker action by parents. In turn, these findings might also suggest that gains could be made from facilitating discussion between children and parents. Previous research shows that effective parent-child communication for example regarding discussion of sexual issues is associated with improved outcomes in children and adolescents [ 16 ], and might also work to motivate caregivers.

The results also give important insights regarding how children suggest we might increase registration and possession of birth certificates. The factor that most children said they would mention was school registration, followed by identification, employment or basic importance. Interestingly, there also did appear to be a trend whereby children who were themselves not yet registered explicitly noted that they would stress the need of having a certificate for the purpose of citizenship or identification.

This occurred at about double the rates of those who were not registered. At the same time, those who were already registered also noted more often that instead of communicating directly with parents they would put their parent in touch with an authority figure, chief or other government representative. These findings do suggest that children may have been quite aware of the underlying issues raised by our previous adult study and a prescient potential source for strategic planning. When asked to give strategy ideas that could be used by the government, students again seemed quite in tune with the motivations or potential actions of their parents.

Many argued for direct action from the government, and essentially for authorities to take the responsibility from parents. This was often framed along the lines of a need to fund, hire and send staff directly to the village, school, or the door of the parent. On the other hand, the other most often mentioned means were for officials to visit each village and provide more information, education, direct paperwork assistance and for them to ensure that each child was registered. This finding matches the argument made in our previous paper, where we suggested that the best course of action was for direct government involvement and action in place of relying on the motivation of the parent.

It is also informative to note what answers were not often given.

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While many students mentioned the need for building registration centers in their local areas or otherwise connecting services more directly to parents, only 7. As we discussed in our previous paper, while prevalent wisdom for increasing certification frames policy along the lines of cost or access for parents, the present low rates of registration even following programs to alleviate these issues suggests that this does not have the desired impact. Rather, the best case may be structural change that removes deliberation from the parent.

Children seemed to share this intuition. Equally interesting was our finding of some students 8. This suggestion, which might provide an automatic means of registering and certifying children as part of the official course of hospital admittance, was given as a major suggestion from our previous paper.

Our finding in this paper of likelihood among those students who were registered to suggest either hospitalization or direct enforcement, is further evidence for the intuition of children. We will conclude with a short discussion of potential application of these findings to policy or health research, and some suggestions.

Although not necessarily representative of all children, these results do raise important implications for policy and study in Kenya, East Africa, or in similar developing regions. First, the results do specifically lend support to our previous arguments for policy implementations. We again had argued that a policy that can automate procedures or reduce responsibility or deliberation from parents may mark the most impactful solution.

This is because parents in previously under-registered regions, as reiterated here by their children , do not appear motivated by the relative ease, cost or awareness of registration services. Rather they appear to take action only when they perceive an immediate benefit. In our present survey the contextual factors for when and why children were or were not registered appeared to center on parents waiting to register until it was immediately needed for school registration, and highlighting the need for different approaches that may minimize this decision.

In turn, when we look to what these children themselves suggested as possible solutions, a notable portion also argued for coupling registration to community centered programs that have immediate perceived benefit to themselves or their parents. Children also noted that such a strategy should include either directly registering a child for the parents, appointing individuals to visit each and every household in a village, or increasing hospital births.


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  • All three factors, especially entering children into a hospital system, were also stressed in our previous paper and do appear to be intuited by students. Students also appeared quite cognizant of the deliberation and lack of sufficient motivation by their parents. Our respondents routinely stressed that parents do not find benefit until school becomes an issue, do not register younger children.

    Despite the advocacy of this approach also by a notable number of students, however, wide-scale hospitalization may not yet be practical in Kenya or other developing regions.


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    • Therefore we suggested again other structures that could provide similar automatic registration, such as child vaccination. As also noted in our last paper, this could also be accomplished through use of recent advances in ICT and mobile technology, which has shown promise in many similar areas [ 8 , 34 ]. Interestingly, this structure for a representative to visit every home within a village in order to confirm or process registration was also an idea also specifically articulated by many children.

      Second, when considering education services for informing parents, there also appears room for an important tweaking of present approaches. While it may seem intuitive to tie registration to schooling, because it would impact the most children even throughout rural or under-reported areas, this may be counterproductive.

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