Poverty, illiteracy and early death await disadvantaged children, according to a UNICEF report.
Based on current trends, 69 million children under 5 years of age will die from mostly preventable causes, 167 million children will live in poverty, and 750 million women will have been married as children by 2030–the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals-–unless the world focuses more on the plight of its most disadvantaged children, said the report released by Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao here today.
The state of the world’s children, UNICEF’s annual flagship report, paints a stark picture of what is in store for the world’s poorest children, if governments, donors, businesses and international organisations do not accelerate efforts to address their needs.
The report notes that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting them into school and lifting people out of poverty.
Global under-five mortality rates have been more than halved since 1990, boys and girls attend primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries, and the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half of what it was in the 1990s.
But this progress has been neither even nor fair, the report says. The poorest children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday and to be chronically malnourished than the richest.
Across much of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children born to mothers with no education are almost three times more likely to die before they are five than those born to mothers with a secondary education. And girls from the poorest households are twice as likely to marry as children than girls from the wealthiest households.
Although education plays a unique role in levelling the playing field for children, the number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011, and a significant proportion of those who do go to school are not learning.
Globally, about 124 million children today do not go to primary and lower-secondary school, and almost 2 in 5 who do finish primary school have not learnt how to read, write or do simple arithmetic.