Information and stories addressing children.

Ugandan Science Show
A new Ugandan science show called N*Gen (pronounced “engine”) has exploded in popularity over the past year. The show is delighting kids across Africa and presenting a new and engaging way to learn science. The show debuted on Ugandan television in September 2020. Afterward, television networks in various African countries picked up the show. The show is even now available in North America and the Caribbean. N*Gen presents science through a “decidedly African Prism” and seeks to promote greater African and female representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. With the show’s massive popularity, it has encouraged children to learn more about science and pursue careers in STEM. 

The Origins of N*Gen

Six teachers from the Clarke Junior School in Kampala created the Ugandan science show in 2020. They created the show in conjunction with the East African nonprofit Peripheral Vision International. Peripheral Vision International produces and funds the show. The show is shot in Kampala, Uganda and airs weekly in 35-minute episodes. It also features episodes shot on location for specific topics at times. N*Gen targets 8- to 12-year-old African children as its audience and has proven to be very popular with this demographic.

N*Gen seeks to be both engaging and entertaining to its audience. This is important in a culture where science is often labeled a more challenging subject. The show centers around engaging presentations of STEM topics through guest teachers and presenters, animations, quizzes and experiments, fitness and mindfulness exercises, on-location episodes and more. The creators stated the show’s goals are to be to:

  1. Foster a culture of curiosity and discovery
  2.  Model new holistic ways of approaching learning
  3. Promote positive gender norms
  4. Nurture trust in science
  5. Help families stay safe during the pandemic

How N*Gen is Changing Science Media

A persistent complaint about science education is that it has focused primarily on Western male perspectives. N*Gen’s ability to change this and engage its viewers in new ways has perhaps been the greatest success of the show. The show focuses on African issues and topics that are present in African kids’ lives. It primarily involves African female perspectives. This gives young girls role models and hopes to look to for a future in science.

N*Gen tends to cover topics that are specific to Africa. For example, they had a segment on the Turkana Boy fossil located in Kenya. A paleontologist from the museum where the bones are located spoke about the fossil. The show visited other locations including Lake Victoria and a local chocolate factory in order to bring science under a more relatable and close-to-home lens for the show’s viewers.

N*Gen’s Depiction of Women

N*Gen has emphasized the depiction of women as scientific experts and presenters as an important aspect of the show. A study shows that at age 6, girls draw 70% of scientists as women compared to 25% at age 16. This is likely due to a lack of female representation in media as scientists and scientific experts. However, N*Gen has made this a strong area of focus and helps to inspire young girls by showing exceptional women in the scientific field.

The two main presenters are teachers at the Clarke Junior School: Irene Nyangoma Mugadu and Annah Komushana. Guest teachers, scientists and presenters are predominantly women although men are certainly present in the show as well. This has influenced its audience and had the intended effect. A 10-year-old girl from Kampala who watches and even appeared on the show explained, “It’s boys who do all the fun stuff, and sometimes, a girl like me gets a little left out. But girls can be scientists and go to the moon.”

Going Global

After its debut in September, N*Gen was quickly picked up by television networks in over half a dozen African countries. After becoming a smash hit, the show was picked up by The Africa Channel and is now available for viewing in North America and the Caribbean every Saturday and Sunday at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. ET.

– Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

Turkish Educational InequalityWith the COVID-19 pandemic creating economic distress in Turkey, the need for NGOs, nonprofits and organizational aid is bigger than ever. One NGO, the Darüşşafaka Society, is providing much-needed support for one of Turkey’s most vulnerable populations: children. As Turkey’s oldest non-governmental organization in the field of education, the Darüşşafaka Society has served as a model for combating Turkish educational inequality and remains one of the most prominent NGOs in Turkey today.

Low Enrollment Rates in Turkish Schools

In comparison to the majority of EU countries, Turkey has a larger issue with educational enrollment. In 2016, Turkey hit a peak in terms of the percentages of out-of-school adolescents since 2012. The UNESCO Institute of Statistics found that approximately 523,363 Turkish adolescents were unenrolled, surpassing the previous year by almost 100,000 youths.

While this number has declined in recent years, 2019 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the percentage of Turkish 15-to-19-year-olds who were unemployed and out of school was 17% still far above the average 6.6% for OECD countries.

Academic and Socioeconomic Inequality in Turkey

A contributing factor to these numbers is Turkish educational inequality, which impacts technological access, enrollment rates and academic performance overall.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue of Turkish educational inequality. Reports indicate the true severity of the situation, stating that 20% of Turkish students had internet connection issues in 2020, limiting online learning accessibility and resources for students across the country. Additionally, the financial stress of the pandemic put many families in a tight spot, unable to afford necessary tools like school supplies, computers and technological resources. Households were also unable to pay for data and the internet to connect to online classes.

The History of Darüşşafaka Society

For many needy children and families, relief has come in the form of the Darüşşafaka Society. Darüşşafaka Society is the oldest Turkish NGO in the field of education, originally founded in 1863 as a part of Cemiyet-i Tedrisiyye-i İslamiye or the Islamic Education Society. High-standing intellectuals in Turkey founded Darüşşafaka Society in order to establish formal education channels for needy children and orphans, teaching basic skills like reading, writing and math when governmental efforts fell short.

In more than 100 years since its founding, Darüşşafaka Society has become an integral part of the fight against Turkish educational inequality, providing educational and financial support to needy and orphaned students and expanding on its original mission by constructing a physical campus in Istanbul. The Society offers full scholarships to students as well as complete coverage of all healthcare, living and academic expenses. These costs are covered through donations made to The Society. The initiative also strives for scholarship support to its students during their tertiary studies.

Success Stories

The Society’s impact on Turkish educational inequality can be seen through the stories of students, faculty and alumni. One such story is that of Dr. Nahit Çakar, a professor of anesthesiology at Istanbul University who was admitted to Darüşşafaka after struggling to pay for education. Çakar, while not an orphan, was a student with significant financial hardships that prevented accessibility to prestigious schools.

Çakar says, “We learned about friendship, camaraderie. We were a group of people coming from the same deprivation and poverty.” After graduating from Darüşşafaka, Çakar went on to become a doctor and professor, aiming to pay forward the gift of education.

Funding for Darüşşafaka Society comes primarily from local community donors, but The Society has also found itself in the sights of international corporations in recent years. A 2011 interview with Saffet Karpat, chairman of the Procter & Gamble Turkey Board of Directors, highlighted the “Dream to Reality” flagship project with the Darüşşafaka Society as part of the company’s social responsibility campaign in Turkey. The program has helped more than 10,000 students with projects in the fields of science, photography and music, throughout the course of one year.

Darüşşafaka Society Today

According to Darüşşafaka’s website, the current student cohort amounts to a little less than 1,000 students, many of whom were previously learning in disadvantaged classrooms with up to 60 other students. The success of Darüşşafaka’s students is in part due to the improved learning environments that it provides. For instance, as a result of its rigorous focus on science, Darüşşafaka’s robotics team has become a significant contender in the FIRST Robotics Competition, an annual international STEM and robotics championship held in the U.S.

Comprised entirely of orphaned and disadvantaged students, the team has won championship-division awards since its start in 2009 and was most recently presented with awards in both the Long Island and Houston championships in 2019.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

According to the Global Partnership for Education, an equal chance at education for students of all backgrounds could reduce international economic disparities by 39%. With the continued efforts of organizations like Darüşşafaka Society, youth in need, disadvantaged and orphaned students will continue to be provided with opportunities to rise out of poverty through education.

Madeleine Youngblood
Photo: Flickr

vaccinating Zero-dose childrenGavi, the Vaccine Alliance has partnered with Save the Children to expand the reach of vaccination efforts and health services for vaccinating zero-dose children. Millions of children around the world go without routine vaccinations every year, creating dangerous situations in developing nations plagued with diseases such as pneumonia and measles. The partnership intends to address this problem through a coordinated response of immunization programs to reach children in the most disadvantaged places on Earth.

The State of Global Child Vaccinations

There has been an undeniable trend of progress in global child vaccination rates over the past several decades. The rate of children fully vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus stands at 85% today compared with 20% in 1980. Likewise, the rate of vaccinations protecting against measles and polio rose from less than 20% in 1980 to 85% in 2019, while rates of vaccinations for rubella rose from less than 10% to more than 70% in the same period of time. However, despite the obvious progress in child vaccinations, there is still a sizable portion of children who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, leaving them susceptible to life-threatening diseases.

Approximately 20 million children are either under-vaccinated or completely unvaccinated across the globe, with more than 60% of this number coming from just 10 countries including Nigeria, Ethiopia and Pakistan. About half of the 20 million receive no routine vaccinations whatsoever, making them zero-dose children. These children overwhelmingly live in developing nations, many of which are high-intensity conflict zones. More peaceful areas in developing nations still lack adequate infrastructure and millions of children living in remote and marginalized communities have little or no access to healthcare.

The Risks for Zero-Dose Children

Zero-dose children are some of the most vulnerable people on the planet as they are easy targets for life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, measles and HPV. Pneumonia kills more than 800,000 children every year, making it the leading infectious cause of preventable child deaths in the world. It is a treatable disease, and if diagnosed early, pneumonia treatment over a three-to-five day period can be successful using antibiotics costing just $0.40. However, in low-income countries lacking access to clean water, healthy diets and affordable healthcare, it is a life-threatening disease as almost all child pneumonia deaths occur in developing nations.

Other major diseases of concern to zero-dose children include measles and HPV. Global measles cases are on the rise again, reaching levels not seen in more than two decades. In 2019, the world reported about 863,000 cases of measles compared with only 360,000 the year before. This alarming escalation turned even worse with the arrival of COVID-19 as many countries had to suspend immunization services and programs leaving even more children unable to get vaccinated. Furthermore, while the rate of global HPV vaccinations has steadily increased for several years, fully-vaccinated girls only make up about 15% of the world with many developing nations lacking any vaccination programs. These low coverage levels around the world mean the likelihood a child born today will have all necessary vaccinations by age 5 is less than 20%.

The Partnership

Thankfully, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Save the Children plan to make a global impact with a vaccination program intended to reach zero-dose children. Save the Children already works in developing nations by training and supporting frontline healthcare workers, delivering life-saving medicine and improving immunization coverage. Gavi will leverage this existing presence to expand immunization programs for vaccinating zero-dose children. The partnership between the two organizations will work by sharing key learnings and best practices to explore adding vaccinations to current treatments of pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition for children in low-income communities.

This program will build on the healthcare successes of Save the Children in developing nations and expand the reach of vaccinations to Gavi-supported countries such as Angola, the Republic of the Congo and Cameroon. Immunization efforts will prioritize fragile and high-conflict areas but other locations with major immunization gaps will also receive aid and vaccination increases. Additionally, the partnership will address vaccine hesitancy among parents by implementing community-based education programs and will continue the advancement of COVID-19 vaccination access in developing nations. These efforts stand to make an immense difference in developing nations and millions of children and their families stand to benefit, as do entire communities, as higher levels of immunizations lead to less infectious diseases.

The Road Ahead

Although health innovations in the past half-century have contributed to a major decrease in preventable child mortality rates, there are still far too many children who die from infectious diseases and many of these children are completely unvaccinated. In response to this situation, Gavi and Save the Children have teamed up with efforts in vaccinating zero-dose children in the world’s most impoverished nations. By building on the successes of current operations and introducing vaccinations into existing health programs, the partnership will strive to decrease the immunization gap and continue making headway toward the global goal of no zero-dose children.

Calvin Nordhougen
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Uganda
Many know Africa as having a high amount of poverty. Uganda is becoming one of the most impoverished countries, which is significantly affecting the children. The life-threatening impacts children in Uganda face every day include malnutrition, health assistance deprivation, access to education, shelter deprivation and exposure to crime. Here are five life-threatening impacts pertaining to child poverty in Uganda.

5 Life-Threatening Impacts Due to Child Poverty in Uganda

  1. Malnutrition: One of the biggest problems with child poverty in Uganda is malnutrition. Child hunger and malnutrition result in poor health and failure to reach educational potential. Malnutrition in young children can result from a lack of nutritious food but disease, including diarrhea, can also cause it. At least half of all children aged 6-59 months old are anemic as a result of malnutrition. In 2003, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture created a policy that aims to “reduce malnutrition among children; reduce low birth weight among newborns; and eliminate micronutrient deficiencies (in vitamin A, iodine and iron).”
  2. Health Assistance Deprivation: Most of the children in Uganda lack access to healthcare assistance and are not able to receive vaccinations at a young age because of their inability to afford them. According to the UNICEF Child Poverty and Deprivation analysis, “Children slept under treated bed nets to prevent malaria, which was the (leading) cause of 27% of deaths in Uganda in 2016.” A significant amount of children, mostly orphaned, have been suffering from HIV/AIDS in Uganda without any medical treatment. Without parents to provide for their children, the children end up being unable to access any medical assistance. Furthermore, small households with a single parent and a single child are more prone to catch illnesses.
  3. Access to Education: As a result of child poverty in Uganda, children are not always able to garner education and they frequently lack access to school supplies because of the inability to afford them. A majority of the children are unable to read or write, causing Uganda to have one of the highest illiteracy rates in Africa. Lacking nutrition in diets may cause them to miss school; even if they attend class, they may have trouble focusing on their lessons. In Uganda, the deprivation rates are increasing, with nine out of 10 children not having access to educational resources like uniforms, books, chairs and desks.
  4. Shelter Deprivation: Most Ugandan children in poverty live in rural areas with their families. In Uganda, the typical poor family is one that cannot afford access to basic necessities of living. This includes shelter, water, food, beds, blankets and cooking equipment, etc. Additionally, poorer families are not always able to afford any damages that might occur to their homes, causing the damages to worsen over time. A common living condition that the poor in Uganda have to deal with is leaky roofs, which may cause dampness in dwellings and the formation of mold. Also, most children live in households that are unable to put aside money for emergencies. Moreover, they cannot always afford to replace broken pots and pans that their households use for cooking.
  5. Exposure to Crime: Due to Child Poverty in Uganda, a growing number of children are becoming victims of criminal activity. Some forms of crime include theft, housebreaking, abuse, assault, defilement, murder, property damage and robbery. The percentage of defilement cases involving juvenile offenders rose from 28% in 2008 to 42% in 2010. The most frequent form of crime children and their families have experienced in Uganda is theft and housebreaking. Child abuse is more common in girls than boys, with 60% of child abuse crimes involving girls. Even if the crimes are not violent, the constant exposure to such crimes can cause an impact on the social and psychological health of a child.

Save the Children

The life-threatening effects of malnutrition, limited healthcare access, lack of education, shelter deprivation and higher exposure to crime rates could significantly increase if no one addresses child poverty in Uganda. Luckily, the organization Save the Children is aiming to fight for children’s rights to education, healthcare and safety around the world. In 2020, Save the Children and its donors changed the lives of over 552,000 children in Uganda by providing education, protection and health assistance.

While child poverty in Uganda is prevalent, the efforts of Save the Children have had a significant impact. Through continued work, child poverty should continue to reduce in Uganda and around the world.

– Mary McLean
Photo: Flickr

Playgrounds Made of Recycled Materials in IndiaOne of the lesser-known consequences of India’s rapid urbanization has been the lack of available playgrounds and recreational spaces for India’s youth. A recent study found that 90% of India’s youth never get to use a playground. This disproportionately affects children living in poverty. To improve the mental, physical and social health of India’s most impoverished urban youth, playgrounds, recreational spaces and sports need to be more accessible, especially in India’s urban slums. One method of providing such an outlet to Indian children is through the construction of playgrounds of recycled materials.

Indian Youth Face Disadvantages

With so few spaces to play, children resort to playing in dangerous places like on the side of the road, in construction areas or near railways. In addition to having exposure to more dangerous situations while playing, the lack of recreation space for India’s urban youth has other disadvantages as well. Daily physical activity has been proven beneficial to the mental and physical health of children by decreasing depression, reducing anxiety and strengthening the immune system.

Practicing sports and engaging in recreation have positive social effects for girls in particular. Girls who play sports and keep up with physical activity are less likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy, smoke cigarettes or consume drugs.

Anthill Creations

Anthill Creations is a nonprofit organization (NGO) in Bangalore, India, working to help solve the problem of the absence of recreation spaces for India’s youth through designing and constructing playgrounds out of recycled materials.

India’s landfills have an abundance of industrial materials such as tires, concrete pipes and scrap wood. While watching children play with scrap materials that litter the streets, the founder of Anthill Creations, Pooja Rai, came up with the idea to build playgrounds out of the same recycled materials and litter that one can find in and around India’s slums and landfills.

Anthill Creations relies on the input, trust and energy of the communities where the NGO works in order to design each playground specifically for that community. When undertaking a construction project, the team at Anthill Creations spends time with the local children for days prior to beginning construction; the goal is to both gain the trust of the local children and to understand what they would desire in their new playground.

The organization’s volunteers construct the playgrounds, oftentimes even attracting volunteer labor from the very communities in which the organization is working. Rai says this helps foster a sense of “ownership and responsibility” of and for the playgrounds among the local volunteers.

The Positive Impact

Anthill Creations coordinates with other NGOs, private corporations and local governments in order to maximize its positive impact on India’s urban youth. As a result of Anthill Creations and its projects for government schools, the nonprofit has been able to help reduce absenteeism; children are more excited to come to school when they have a new playground to play on. Anthill Creations also worked with the United Nations in order to construct playgrounds for Rohingya refugees from nearby Myanmar.

Anthill Creations projects are a sustainable way to provide low-cost recreational spaces and playgrounds to India’s children, while also repurposing India’s abundant scrap in a way that can benefit the country’s most impoverished communities.

– Willy Carlsen
Photo: Flickr

Mining for Mica
The majority of the world’s mica comes from India, more specifically the country’s eastern states. Jharkhand and Bihar, two regions in the country’s eastern states, are where the majority of the mining for mica happens. In fact, around 60% of the world’s mica comes from those two regions. Before mica ends up in shiny eyeshadow and many other makeup products, it passes through many networks’ middlemen and wholesalers; it also crosses many borders. Thus, it is nearly impossible to trace the origins of mica and the harsh reality that children frequently mine this mineral.

About Mica

The makeup industry is a prominent part of Western culture. Some common beauty products are powder, eye shadow and eyeliner. Upon close examination of what is in these products, the realization has emerged that they all have a common ingredient, mica. Mica, also known as muscovite, is a natural mineral. Because mica is a mineral, it requires mining. Mica has the appearance of flakes and is rather flexible. It is light in weight and relatively soft.

Mica and Child Labor in India

Children mine mica illegally in India as they have small frames and can easily access the minerals underground. These children generally do not have an education and are unable to attend school due to their families’ lack of funds. Children as young as 5 years old must work long hours in the mines to make money for their families. Estimates have determined that around 4,545 children in Jharkhand and the surrounding region are not attending school. Moreover, the hazardous work environment negatively impacts their health. Cases such as tuberculosis, skin infection, respiratory infection, asthma and head injuries are not uncommon. Many children have supposedly died while working in the mines. However, because mining is illegal, local officials frequently cover them up, thus making an actual fatality count rather difficult.

Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF)

Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) is a foundation that strives to end all violence against and exploitation of children. It is doing so by ensuring child protection through research, innovations, awareness generation, promoting partnerships and participation. Since 2005, KSCF has been working in mining areas where children illegally work as laborers. It raises funds to send many children to school. It intends to rescue all children from mining and send them to school. KSCF regularly issues saplings to the children and encourages them to plant them. This is an effort to spread awareness of their environment.

There are 171 counselors in 150 villages of Jharkhand who create awareness against sending children for mining and other social issues. KSCF has freed over 3,000 children from mica mines and 80,000 children from child labor across multiple industries.

Though mining for mica is still illegal in India, many children and adults continue to do it to provide for their families. Moreover, many deaths have occurred but people have not reported them for fear of losing income. While India still produces mass amounts of mica, the help of organizations like KSCF should gradually help eliminate the use of children in mica mining.

– Candice Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in Liberia
Faced with two civil wars, Liberia has experienced years of poverty. With more than 80% of Liberians living in poverty, the country has been trying to revitalize its economy. Child poverty in Liberia is significant as well. Moreover, the mortality rate for children is high. In addition to this, Liberia ranks in the bottom 10 countries on the Human Development Index. The Human Development Index considers life expectancy, education and income.

Child Poverty in Liberia

According to Action Against Hunger, a stable environment for those living in Liberia has yet to emerge. Funding for healthcare facilities has significantly decreased. Liberian children often do not have proper access to education and healthcare and frequently face abuse or trafficking. As a result of this, many children live on the streets. Furthermore, 40% of children suffer from malnutrition and one in five do not receive proper nourishment. Meanwhile, about 84% of Liberians live below the international poverty line and make around $1.25 a day.

Uncertain Employment Positions

The Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) collected the following data. The overall information reveals that over 50% live in extreme poverty. In addition to this, 51.2% of families experience food shortages. This survey also shows that unemployment stands at 3.9%, meaning that Liberia has a low unemployment rate. However, the survey characterized around 79.5% of people as having uncertain employment positions whereas 79.9% of people had an informal form of employment.

While Liberia may have a low unemployment rate, many Liberians find it difficult to provide a stable life for their children and family as women average around 5.2 children. Due to small daily wages, women cannot meet children’s financial needs, reiterating the high mortality rate and low life expectancy that Liberian children experience. Due to a parent’s inability to care for a large family, children end up working at young ages.

Organizations Helping Liberian Children

For the past two decades, Save the Children has been addressing Liberian children that the civil war affected. This organization provides aid in areas such as healthcare and protection. It also assists children by providing them tools such as education and spearheading advocacy for child rights. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of many donors that helps Save the Children.

Action Aid is another organization that is assisting impoverished children in Liberia. Action Aid strives to attain social justice and equality and mitigate poverty. This group focuses on women and the younger generations to improve the quality of healthcare, education and children’s rights.

Many efforts have emerged to address the conditions in Liberia, including child poverty. The World Bank has provided $54 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to improve Liberia’s health services for women and children. The IFISH (Institutional Foundations to Improve Services for Health) project has spearheaded the expansion and operations of hospitals. An example is the Redemption Hospital located in Montserrado County. The multiple projects and initiatives should hopefully aid in the elimination of child poverty in Liberia.

– Nicole Sung
Photo: Flickr

children in migration
In February 2021, the European Union announced the new E.U. Global Promotion of Best Practices for Children in Migration Programme in collaboration with UNICEF and the U.N. Refugee Agency. This initiative aims to ensure protective services for migrant children. The year 2020 marked the highest migrant population ever recorded with 280.6 million people. Nearly 15% of this population are children under 19. Extra care is necessary to ensure this vulnerable group can receive proper protection.

Creating the Programme

Children in migration are often at risk of gender violence, physical harm and exploitation as they travel to their destination. This is due to the lack of resources, government protection and spending long periods in immigration detention facilities. The E.U. created its Global Promotion of Best Practices for Children in Migration Programme to address these risks of abuse in order to better protect minors in these situations. These protections are especially crucial because of the rising number of unaccompanied children in migration.

The plans include training for government officials who work with migrating children, increasing awareness of gendered violence and alternative care plans for migrant children to replace traditional immigration detention. Efforts will go towards provided education for officials to recognize child abuse and learn proper intervention techniques for the child’s safety. The program will focus on the countries El Salvador, Mexico, South Africa and Zambia.

The program expects to use approximately €7.5 million in funding and already received €7 million from the European Union by its launch date. Hopes are high that the program will protect many children within its 30-month duration; in Mexico alone in 2019, an estimated 52,000 children had to migrate.

The Risk of Gender Violence for Children in Migration

Children in migration are incredibly vulnerable to gender violence. This consists most commonly of sexual violence and exploitation. Perpetrators can easily take advantage of children without families, safe housing options or defenses. Migrating children are often subject to rape, sexual assault or even human trafficking while traveling to their final destination.

Small case studies from around the world report high rates of migrant children experiencing gender-based and sexual violence. However, the exact rates are difficult to find because so many cases go unreported. Since most children in migration do not have legal protection or support, they do not report assaults in their destination country. Girls are more likely to face gender violence, but migrant boys also report high rates of sexual violence. While migrant boys and girls face different challenges, both need special protection.

Research found officials under-trained to properly care for abused children’s needs once they reach safety. Increasing psychosocial training to assist children with sexual abuse or trauma could better prepare officials in locating resources to aid the child’s mental or physical needs.

Options for Alternatives to Migrant Children in Detention

UNICEF has already been educating partners on alternatives to putting migrating children in immigration detention, especially when they do not have accompaniment. Some children in detention have even reported sexual abuse and neglect by center workers. They need special protection even in an environment catered towards caring for migrating children.

Instead, UNICEF’s recommendations include new foster care programs or homestays with families that are trained and willing to house unaccompanied minors or children whose parents have been detained in immigration detention. Additionally, referral networks must appraise migrants of their rights and point children in migration towards protective environments.

Hope for Migrating Children

While the E.U. Global Promotion of Best Practices for Children in Migration Programme is focusing on only four countries in the world, the findings from this project can be instrumental in pioneering solutions for government officials and social workers across the world working to support children in migration. With increased intervention and assistance, children in migration can safely seek refuge without fear of abuse.

– June Noyes
Photo: Flickr

Hepatitis BIn a difficult year, 2020 carried some bits of great news for global health and children around the world. The incidence of hepatitis B in children under 5 dropped below 1% in 2019, a huge milestone and a cause for celebration for the public health community around the world. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke positively about reaching the milestone by looking to the future: “Today’s milestone means that we have dramatically reduced the number of cases of liver damage and liver cancer in future generations.” The milestone marks the attainment of one of the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce viral hepatitis to less than 1% prevalence for children under 5 by 2020.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver which can lead to many health problems, the most serious of which being liver cancer. More than 250 million people worldwide are carrying a chronic hepatitis B infection, with 900,000 deaths from the disease occurring annually.

Mother-to-child infection is the most common, making the disease especially damaging to children. Infants are the most vulnerable to the disease — an overwhelming 90% of infected infants under the age of 1 become chronic carriers of the disease. This makes controlling hepatitis B in children very important to global health.

Methods of Control

The best method of prevention is through the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine became available in 1982 and prevents millions of hepatitis B cases a year. The timing of the doses is extremely important and three are required to complete the recommended vaccination course. The first “birth dose” is most effective when administered in the delivery room or less than 24 hours after birth. The second dose should follow 28 days thereafter. The third and final dose follows at least four months after the first dose.

The WHO aims to achieve universal childhood vaccination as the vaccine offers lifetime protection for children who receive it at the recommended times. The vaccine is most effective for infants but the vaccine series is still recommended for children up to 18 years old. In 2017, the FDA approved a two-dose vaccine for adults.

Hepatitis B Vaccinations in Numbers

About 85% of children received the recommended three doses in 2019, a remarkable improvement compared to 30% who received it in 2000. The birth dose must be timely as it the most crucial part of the vaccination. This is why timely access to these vaccines is an urgent concern.

Unfortunately, despite rapid improvement, timely access to the birth dose remains unequal. Currently, 43% of children globally receive a timely birth dose. However, this falls to 34% in the eastern Mediterranean region and even further down to a lowly 6% in Africa. This serves as a reminder that, despite significant progress, efforts must continue to completely eradicate hepatitis B in children.

The Road Ahead

While the vaccine is the predominant form of prevention, recent efforts have focused on expanding ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission. The WHO called on countries to test pregnant women for hepatitis B and provide antiviral therapy before the birth of the child, if necessary. This significantly reduces the likelihood of mother-to-child transmission and is one of the key areas of improvement the WHO stresses, along with greater birth dose coverage. While hepatitis B prevention is not yet complete, reaching the 1% landmark is incredibly important and is the result of decades of hard work and effective policy.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

better Education in IndiaEducation is vitally important to every country, especially impoverished ones. Education itself can help families break cycles of poverty and it allows people an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills in a way that helps their nation. Education can allow people to learn better farming techniques so that they can produce more food for themselves. Literate and educated people often have a better opportunity to have a healthier lifestyle because they can understand medical information. India is one nation that is trying to improve its education system. Better education in India can help people rise out of poverty.

Advantages of India’s Education System

Despite its learning system needing improvements, India’s learning system does already have some substantial positive aspects to it. One benefit of India’s education system is that it correlates to a decrease in unemployment. School also helps people become self-employed. India’s schools also helped to greatly reduce the amount of child labor taking place in the nation.

India’s educational system also provides a degree of support for people who are especially disadvantaged and impoverished. There are programs in India called reservation systems that help these groups. Reservation systems mean a set percentage of seats will be reserved in all universities and colleges for students who belong to socially and educationally backward categories or castes. Certain scheduled tribes have 7.5% reserved seats, scheduled castes have 15% and “other backward classes” have 27%. However, each state within India can have varying percentages.

The Draft National Education Policy

In 2019, India released its Draft National Education Policy (DNEP). The DNEP is India’s first attempt to reform its education system since the 1986 National Policy on Education. The DNEP outlines some important improvements that India wants to make.

For example, the document suggests an increase in spending for public education in India. The current percentage of India’s GDP that goes to education is 3%. Under the DNEP, that percentage would go up to 6%. Under this policy, Indian school children would start learning at the age of three, which allows more time for children to grow and learn.

Another improvement that India’s education system requires is better training for its teachers. The DNEP will address this challenge by having teachers complete their training at universities. Currently, teachers train at specialist colleges that provide less beneficial teacher training.

Lastly, the DNEP wants to develop around 10,000 to 15,000 multidisciplinary universities. The reason for this is that currently 20% of 40,000 colleges in India only offer one field of study and another 20% of those colleges have less than 100 students on their rosters. Multidisciplinary universities will allow Indians to have more opportunities and educational routes.

A Concerned Citizenry

While the government of India is taking steps to better-learning systems in India, Indian citizens are more than aware that their educational system could use some much-needed change. This has led news outlets such as India Today to publicize their desires for the future of India’s education system. One suggestion that the outlet posed is the removal of lengthy tests that evaluate the knowledge and skills of students. Due to their length and importance, these tests can cause students to become stressed, resulting in underperformance.

India Today suggests that evaluation indicators should include class participation, projects and other key indicators of learning. The equal treatment of all learning subjects is also imperative. Teachers should encourage their students to pursue not just the subjects they need to learn but also the ones that they have a great interest in.

India’s education system still needs improvement but the country has taken significant first steps toward quality education in India. Since education is a key to poverty alleviation, reform is vitally important.

Jacob E. Lee
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