Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Welcome Back !

You have Gifts for Good in your basket.

Thanks for Coming Back !

Are you ready to change a childs life? There are over 300 children who urgently need a sponsor

Welcome Back !

We noticed you were looking to sponsor a community. Your support will not only change the life of a child, but an entire community.

Welcome Back !

Last time you were here, you were looking to help vulnerable children and families. Your support can save and change lives.

In the lead-up to Universal Children’s Day (20 November), ChildFund Alliance has released the findings of its seventh annual ‘Small Voices, Big Dreams’ survey, providing a snapshot of children`s views on education and safety at school.

This year, more than 6,000 children aged 10-12 in 41 countries took part in the survey, from Afghanistan to Cambodia to Zambia, highlighting often striking similarities and differences between children in different parts of the world.

While children almost universally agree on the importance of education, the survey found close to a third of children globally said their school is only ‘sometimes’ safe.

Commenting on the results, Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “Wherever children live in the world, they clearly recognise the value of education, particularly for improving their job prospects. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that every child has the right to learn in a safe environment, and one in three children are telling us we are falling short of the mark.”

School is not always a safe place

While one in three children globally (31%) said their school is not always a safe place, there were a range of issues raised by children about what makes them feel safe. Common themes across all countries included security measures such as fences and gates to keep out strangers and ‘bad people’, protection from bullies and physical violence, and having teachers they trust and respect to look out for them.

However, significantly more children in developing countries talked about the need for school buildings and facilities to be clean, safe and in good repair (21% vs 3% in developed countries), with children in India (58%), Ethiopia (55%) and Bangladesh (54%) particularly concerned about this.

Nearly half of all children in Afghanistan (48%) talked about the danger and disruption of war.

In our school there are not sufficient toilet facilities in the school. Also, the cleanliness of school compound is not good enough. — Parvin, 12, Bangladesh

When the teacher is not in class, my friends can fight and hurt me. — Beatrice, 12, Burkina Faso

Now there are many schools that are closed because of fighting in our village and many children cannot go to school. — Mazharullah, 11, Afghanistan

More and better schools needed

Asked how they would improve education if they were the leader of their country, the majority of children in developing countries (56%) said they would build more schools or renovate existing ones to create better learning environments (compared to 19% of children in developed countries).

Another third of children in developing countries (31%) highlighted the need for students to be provided with the basics they need to learn, such as uniforms, books, pens and pencils (compared to 15% of children in developed countries).

I would build a high school in our village. — Noah, 12, Myanmar

I would provide slates, notebooks, pens and pencil. — Mageswari, 12, India

I want good teachers who teach students well.” — Niron, 10, Cambodia

Missing out on education to work

One in three children in developing countries (31%) said they have missed out on school to help their family with work €“ an issue that is particularly acute for children in the Asia region (36%). Child labour due to poverty is an issue that prevents many kids from completing their education.

It was striking that 91% of children in Afghanistan said they have missed school for work, followed by Timor-Leste (84%) and Ghana (57%).

I`ve missed school to help my family with things like harvesting coffee. — Savier, 12, Timor-Leste

I go to school every day, I never miss school. — Sina, 10, Cambodia

ChildFund conducts the ‘Small Voices, Big Dreams’ survey to hear directly from children on issues of importance to them, and to help inform ChildFund`s program work in disadvantaged communities around the world. The findings will also be used to continue advocating globally for children to live in a world free from violence.

“Governments in every country have committed to ending all forms of violence against children under the new Global Goals,” said Mr Spence. “Now we need to ensure serious action is taken to meet this target.”

“The fact that so many children do not feel safe at school is of great concern, as safety is a prerequisite for learning,” added Meg Gardinier, Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance. “ChildFund Alliance is committed to doing all we can to provide children around the world with a safe, quality education.”

UNICEF has just released the 2016 State of the World`s Children report, highlighting that the world`s most disadvantaged children are at great risk if urgent action isn’t taken to close the gap between rich and poor.

The report finds that while tremendous progress has been made globally in reducing child deaths, getting children into school and lifting millions out of poverty, this overall progress has masked glaring, and sometimes growing gaps, between children from the poorest households and those from the richest households.

The most disadvantaged children continue to live and die in unconscionable conditions. In 2015, an estimated 5.9 million children died before reaching age 5, mostly as a result of diseases that can be easily and affordably prevented and treated.

The new Global Goals have three broad objectives over the next 15 years: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and address climate change. However, if progress is not accelerated, by 2030:

  • An estimated 167 million children will live in extreme poverty (less than US$2 a day), nine out of 10 of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Almost 70 million children under the age of five could die, with children in sub-Saharan Africa 10 times more likely to die before their fifth birthdays than children in high-income countries.
  • More than 60 million primary school-aged children will be out of school, more than half from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Some 750 million women will have been married as children, three quarters of a billion child brides.

“These vast inequities and dangers do more than violate the rights and imperil the futures of individual children. They perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and inequality that undermine the stability of societies and even the security of nations everywhere,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF`s executive director.

“For the most part, the constraints on reaching these children are not technical,” he added. “They are a matter of political commitment. They are a matter of resources. And they are a matter of collective will €“ joining forces to tackle inequity and inequality head-on by focusing greater investment and effort on reaching the children who are being left behind.”

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said: “Governments around the world must invest in expanding opportunities for children and families at greatest risk. This report signals why urgent action must be taken to shift policies, programming and public spending priorities towards the most disadvantaged.

“Rising inequality is already having a massive impact, including in our own region,” Mr Spence continued. “It is more important than ever that we focus our efforts on expanding opportunity for every child, particularly those who experience vulnerability or exclusion.”

Read the full report here.

*The term ‘equity’ may mean different things in different contexts, however, in this report and elsewhere, it refers to all children having the same opportunities to survive, develop and attain their full potential. Fundamentally, it is about fairness and opportunity, a fair chance for every child.