UNICEF has issued its first performance assessment report titled, ‘Progress for Children in the SDG Era,' which monitors countries' achievements in health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4), protection from violence (SDG 16), a safe environment (SDG 11), and equal opportunity (SDGs 5 and 10), in regard to children.
UNHCR issued the title, 'Left Behind: Refuge Education in Crisis,' which expounds on the stories of the 6.4 million refugee, school-age children and adolescents under the agency's mandate.
7 March 2018: The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have released reports discussing progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with regard to children. In addition to releasing child marriage statistics, UNICEF has issued its first performance assessment report titled, ‘Progress for Children in the SDG Era.’ The report monitors countries’ achievements in health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4), protection from violence (SDG 16), a safe environment (SDG 11), and equal opportunity (SDGs 5 and 10), regarding children. Meanwhile, UNHCR issued the title, ‘Left Behind: Refuge Education in Crisis,’ which expounds on the stories of the 6.4 million refugee, school-age children and adolescents under the agency’s mandate.
UNICEF’s SDG assessment report warns that more than half the world’s children live in countries where data on their health, education, and overall wellbeing is either inadequate or non-existent. It shows that 64 countries lack statistics on children’s wellbeing, while 37 other countries with adequate data have shown insufficient progress towards the SDGs. The lack of data makes it difficult or impossible to track countries’ progress with regard to children. Report authors call for renewed efforts to produce the needed data for tracking children’s wellbeing, based on the principles of: building strong measurement into service delivery; making systematic and coordinated efforts to ensure there is a minimum level of data available; and developing shared norms to enable vulnerable children to be identified, while protecting their privacy.
Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director for the Division of Data, Research and Policy, urged countries to renew their commitment to measuring achievements in relation to the SDGs.
UNICEF also issued statistics on child marriage, noting that child marriages globally have fallen in number, with the largest decline occurring in South Asia. In the last 10 years, the proportion of women who were married as children fell from one in four to around one in five. UNICEF concludes that the increase in girls’ school attendance, government spending, and public campaigns against child marriage are factors that have helped bring about the decline. The data supporting these conclusions are drawn from population and household survey data held by several international agencies. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) provided the relevant population data, while USAID supported ‘Demographic and Health Surveys’, and UNICEF supported household-level ‘Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys’ to produce nationally representative data in over 100 countries.
Also addressing children’s development, a UNHCR report discusses the status of refugee education. It cites data showing that just 61% of refugee children attend primary school, compared with 91% of all children globally. The report also finds disparities between refugee girls and boys. At the high school level, for instance, refugee girls are half as likely as refugee boys to be in school. Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called for prioritizing the education of refugee girls, who often miss out due to conditions of insecurity, threats of kidnapping and rape, and lack of adequate toilet facilities in schools. The report emphasizes that receiving good education reduces girls’ vulnerability to violence, early pregnancy, and marriage, and improves child mortality outcomes. The 54-page publication contains stories from refugee camps where children are often educated in overcrowded and under-served facilities. [UNICEF Press Release on Global Data Deficiency] [Publication: Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era] [UN Press Release on Refugee Girls’ Education] [Publication: Left Behind: Refugee Education in Crisis] [UNICEF Press Release on Child Marriage]