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Press Centre (1/2014)

UNICEF: More children than ever growing up healthy, educated and protected, but too many falling between the cracks

GENEVA 30 January 2014 - Clear progress has been made for the 96 million children in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia over the past 25 years but critical gaps remain, UNICEF says at today`s launch of its first State of the World`s Children in Numbers report.

UNICEF Regional Director, Marie-Pierre Poirier says the report is the first of a number of initiatives by UNICEF to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The State of the World’s Children in Numbers publication is the premier source of data and information on child well-being around the world.  Starting in 2014, the standardized statistical tables will be released each January, followed by a narrative report released in November to mark the date the CRC was adopted.

“2014 is an ideal moment to assess how far the world has come in its journey to realize child rights, and then to challenge ourselves on how best to drive change for the hardest to reach and most vulnerable children. The approaching 25th anniversary of the CRC and culmination of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide critical opportunities to re-examine the commitments the world made to its children.”

Ms. Poirier says: “The data presented in the SOWC Numbers report show that where progress is being made, the gains are not evenly distributed. For example, the net primary school enrolment ratio is at 96 per cent or about 92 million in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We estimate 2.5 million children[1] are out of basic education and a large proportion is children with disabilities.”

“We need to start thinking of different and innovative approaches to reach the most vulnerable, such as national and horizontal cooperation amongst countries and knowledge exchange, new targeted programmes and new technologies, particular those that help quality data gathering.”

The State of the World’s Children in Numbers: Every Child Counts reveals vast progress for children in health, nutrition and education in the region. It also highlights that far too many children in the region are slipping through the cracks, masked by improved regional averages. Other sources such as the nationally representative Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and regional analyses dig deeper into the inequities within and between countries.

  • The under-5 child mortality rate has more than halved from 1990 to 2012. But major disparities persist. For Roma children, it is two times higher than the average2.
  • Over 90 per cent of all children have been immunized against most preventable diseases. But immunity gaps remain due to low access in several population groups – in one country a total of 94 per cent of children nationally are immunized against measles compared to only 22 per cent of Roma children3. There is also sharp rise in public scepticism against vaccines across the region.
  • The proportion of children attending early childhood education in most countries is generally low. Children from the poorest households are even less likely to attend. Three countries reported attendance as low as 0-3 per cent of children from the poorest households.
  • Some 1.5 million children registered with a disability attend “special schools” and it is likely the remaining 1.2 who are registered as well as the 3.6 million unregistered make up a large portion of those who are out of school or at risk of dropping out4.

Marie-Pierre Poirier said data alone does not change the world. But it enables change by identifying needs and providing an evidence base for action, investment and accountability.

“Data is an essential tool to realize the rights of children. It is one of the key accountabilities of each and every government to develop and maintain a data system which is transparent, solid and reliable so that disaggregated data collected can show us how far we have come, and where we need to go. UNICEF is supporting Governments throughout the region to do this.”

For further information, please contact:

John Budd, UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Chief, Tel: +41794311537 jbudd@unicef.org
Lely Djuhari, UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Specialist, Tel: +41792044482 ldjuhari@unicef.org

1Summary Brochure Education Equity Now: A regional analysis of the situation of children out of school, UNICEF CEE/CIS 2013, page 13

2Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2012

3Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2012

4Summary Brochure Education Equity Now: A regional analysis of the situation of children out of school, UNICEF CEE/CIS 2013, page 13

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