State of the World’s Children

What are the best and worst places in the world for children?  In mid-November UNICEF released its annual State of the World’s Children report, and not surprisingly, Afghanistan was ranked as one of the worst places to grow up.  As reported in the May 2009  edition of the World Savvy Monitor, decades of war, drought, famine, and unrest have led to the highest infant mortality rate in the world:  257 deaths per 1000 live births.

What’s the best place in the world to be born?  Not the United States as some might guess, but actually there is a six–way tie for the lowest infant mortality rate:   Andorra, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Sweden.  Each of these countries has a rate of 3 deaths per 1000 live births (the US ranks 8 deaths per 1000 live births, along with Lithuania, Serbia, Slovakia, and the United Arab Emirates).

Every year, UNICEF releases the State of the World’s Children report in order to highlight major statistics chronicling the social, economic, educational, and development status of children around the world.  This year’s report also highlights a special section on children’s rights, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), noting that the CRC has helped contribute to 84% of primary school aged children are now in school, among other achievements.  Even so, UNICEF estimates that 1 billion children still lack access to one or more services essential survival and development (food, water, sanitation, etc.), and in 2008, 8.8 million children worldwide died before their fifth birthday.

While there is not yet an entire edition of the World Savvy Monitor on Children, nearly every edition of the Monitor has addressed children in some way. Check out the water edition of the World Savvy Monitor for information about how access to water impacts children’s ability to go to school and get an education. Many of the issues covered in the World Savvy Monitor edition on Women also impact children, including conflict, education inequality, and the girl child.

Incorporate lessons about children’s rights into your curriculum, using these resources:  Oxfam Global Education, GC 2000, and UNICEF Voices of Youth.  Or show a film to highlight issues of children’s rights, such Time for School: The Global Education Crisis, detailing the push for universal primary education.

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