2. Background and
Azerbaijan is a resource-rich country,
which weathered the recent global economic crisis much better than many other
countries. In 2012, 3 % of GDP was allocated for Education, 1.2 % for Health
and 3.6 % for social protection including all pensions - low compared to the
rest of the region. As a result of earlier double-digit economic growth, the
poverty rate has fallen sharply, from 49 per cent in 2001 to 6 per cent in
to increase in real wages and social cash benefits. At the same time, only
25% of the recipients of the Targeted Social Assistance lived below the
national poverty line suggesting that the programme remains insufficiently
targeted. The Government intends to advance to the “second generation” of
social protection reforms, which will aim to develop a broader set of social
services that could address the root causes of poverty.
The coverage and quality of preschool
education for children 3 – 5 years old remains challenging: enrolment is only
14.8 per cent in 2013 with disparities between urban and rural areas: 21.8
and 8.1 per cent respectively. This shows a downward trend compared to 16.9
per cent in 2011 (24.6 per cent for urban and 9.2 for rural areas).
There is also clear evidence that the secondary education system currently is
not of high quality, including low success rates in university entrance
exams, low scores in the PISA international testing, and the high number of
families who seek assistance from private tutors for their children to pass
their university entrance exams. Children with disabilities and girls who
have entered child marriages are not attending schools while IDP children
face challenges in access.
Despite the efforts of the Directorate for
Child Protection and Deinstitutionalization, at the end of 2012, there still
were 42 institutions, which serve more than 8,300 children, out of which
about 1/3 were children with disabilities.
Currently, 168 children aged under 3 are in baby homes under the Ministry of
Reforms are slow, mainly due to challenges in coordination between different
Ministries, and there is a need to build substantial community-based services
to support families so that they do not have a need for institutional care.
The social inclusion of children with
disabilities remains a serious challenge in Azerbaijan, which ratified the UN
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to official
statistics, there are more than 62,000 children with disabilities registered
across country, with less than 10% of them receiving education services. Due
to lack of community-based support services, many children with disabilities
grow in isolation at home or sent to large-scale residential institutions.
Lack of adequate health and social services are the main barriers to the full
development of children, whose rights are enshrined both in the UN CRC and
the national Law on the Rights of Child. In 2013, 520,793 people with
disabilities receiving pensions and benefits were registered; 62,866 of them
are children (2.5% of child population).
According to the official statistics, the
number of children in conflict with the law who committed a crime and were
convicted has been declining since 1995. In 2012, 466 children went through
The majority of the cases concerned robbery (231 cases) and only 42 were
grave crimes. In most cases, it was boys aged 16-18 who participated in the
crimes in groups.
Due to the very low share of health sector
expenditure in GDP (1.2% in 2012), the Government is unable to fulfil all its
commitments to children. According to UN estimates, under-five mortality in
Azerbaijan U5MR was 45 in 2011, which is high for an upper-middle income
country, but also represents a halving of Under-Five Mortality Rates since
1992. The Government has initiated health system reforms, but much remains to
be done to increase the quality and accessibility of health services.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is less than 0.2
per cent among the adult population and still concentrated among certain high-risk
groups, mainly injecting drug users and commercial sex workers. Population of
injecting drug users and sex workers is estimated to be 71,283 (2011) and
25,054 (2011) respectively. 0.2 per cent of the sex workers are living with
HIV (2012). People with HIV are severely stigmatised,
and comprehensive knowledge of HIV and its prevention is very low even among
young people: only 4.8 per cent of girls/women and 5.3 per cent of boys/men
have a comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS.
Number of people living with HIV is
estimated to be 10,000 (2012); percentage of young people aged 15 to 24 who
are living with HIV – less than 0.1 for girls/women and 0.2 for boys/men
(2012). 3,800 adults are in need of ART, while actual ART coverage stands at
24 per cent (2012). Reportedly 22 children are receiving ART. Very few
facilities are providing HIV services integrated with other health services.
Suicide is another important issue. In the
absence of official statistics, anecdotal evidence suggests that in 2012 there
were 482 suicides registered (105 of them were females and 34 were school
children and teenagers).
Since the beginning of 2014, 19 suicides have been already reported by
different media. Lack of adequate and community-based psycho-social support
services further exacerbates the fragile situation.
Use of information and communication
technology has been on the rise. Proportion of households with Internet
access at home has increased to 64.4 per cent in 2012 (compared to only 16.6
per cent in 2005). Internet is used to search for information (29.5%),
communicate (29.7%), and increasingly to deal with public authorities (12%).
Mobile phones have also been extensively used and in 2012 on average there
were 105 mobile phones for 100 people.
Use of the social media has
also been increasing. As of February 2013, number of Facebook users in
Azerbaijan exceeded 1 million (12.21 % of Azerbaijan population and 24 % of
the total number of Internet users). By the number of Facebook users
Azerbaijan is ahead of many others post-Soviet countries such as Georgia,
Kazakhstan, Estonia, Belarus, Armenia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
No data and evidence is available in public
domain on the scale of child labour, sale of children, child prostitution,
trafficking in children and other child protection issues. The country has a
child protection system, which involves many government organizations,
sometimes with overlapping duties and mandates. The complexities of this
system results in unfulfilled rights of many vulnerable children in need of
protection and services. A crucial figure is missing in the system – the
figure of the social worker that should be part of the key decision making
bodies of the child protection system.
Consultancy under the current
ToR will aim at development of the National Strategy for Children 2015-2020 that
would ensure prevention of child rights violation, effective assistance and support
to all vulnerable children and their families and communities. The Strategy
will be in alignment with the approved Azerbaijan 2020: Vision on Future
Strategy Document. Details of the assignment are provided below.