The number of children who do not get even primary education is rising, and child marriage rates have not dropped, a new Unicef report has revealed. Millions of young children will die mostly from preventable causes by 2030, it adds. The root cause of the problems is poverty and Unicef has urged all countries to tackle global economic disparities.
The organisation, which released its annual report on Tuesday (28 June), states that 69 million children will die by 2030 with another 167 million of them living in extreme poverty, if the world does not speed up efforts to improve healthcare and educational facilities. Calling for addressing the needs of the world's most disadvantaged children, the report says about half of these children are from the sub-Saharan region.
According to Unicef's State of the World's Children report, 750 million women will also have been married as children. Poor girls will be more vulnerable and twice more likely to be married as child brides by 2030, a benchmark that the organisation has kept for sustainable development.
The rate among poor girls being married as child brides has not changed since 1990, with 15 million girls still being married off every year.
The report highlights the importance of education at an early stage as it has seen to be one of the reasons to delay marriages and postpone child-bearing.
In addition, poor children in poverty are as twice as likely as rich children to die before the age of five due to inequality. Ted Chaiban, Unicef programme director, said: "80% of preventable deaths now occur in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with almost half occurring in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo and Ethiopia."
"Denying hundreds of millions of children a fair chance in life does more than threaten their futures – by fuelling intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, imperils the future of their societies," said Anthony Lake, Unicef's executive director. "We have a choice: Invest in these children now or allow our world to become still more unequal and divided."
Education and poverty
The report has called for increasing efforts to provide education to all children as it has been observed that every additional year a child gets educated reflects on the income he or she earns as an adult once grown up, which increases by about 10%. Besides, the national poverty rate drops by 9% for every additional year of schooling completed on an average by youngsters.
The number of children who do not attend primary and lower-secondary school has increased by about two million since 2011 and the figure now stands at 124 million.
It is also reported that children whose mothers are educated are nearly three times less likely to die, and more likely to attend school.
On the positive side, the report notes that the global death rates for children below five years since 1990 have halved. An equal number of boys and girls too are said to be going to primary school in 129 countries Unicef surveyed.
In addition to young children suffering from poverty and inequality, many children also flee from conflict areas. They are among the most disadvantaged as some 30 million of them are displaced.
"Some of the big challenges that we now face, like refugees and migrants, are connected with inequality and poverty," Justin Forsyth, Undine's deputy executive director told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He also suggested that bringing down that imbalance "is good for those children, but it's also good to stop future crisis."