Investing in Children is the Best Investment Fiji Can Make
UNICEF and Ministry of Strategic Planning Launch Children’s Atlas of Social Indicators
SUVA, 20 April 2012 – Children constitute nearly 40 per cent of the entire Fijian population. Their well-being is central to the well-being of the nation. Investing in its children is the best investment Fiji can make.
Permanent Secretary for Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Mr. Pita Wise made these remarks when providing an overview of the report at today’s launch. He added that “Fiji has made significant progress in fulfilling children’s rights and safeguarding their development and well-being. At the same time, it is clear that national averages for the country as a whole often hide differences based on location, gender or wealth.”
Urban/rural disparities are the most prominent, with children in urban areas experiencing better access to education, health and other services. This translates into real difference in children’s survival and well-being. However, poverty is also a critical factor. Children living in poverty are the least likely to complete primary and secondary education.
In launching the report, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Office Regional Director, Daniel Toole congratulated the Fiji Government for working with UNICEF and providing valuable information specifically on the country’s children and women.
Mr. Toole congratulated the Government for initiatives undertaken by them such as the social protection system that provides a safety net for those who are most vulnerable and excluded. These include the Care and Protection Allowance, Family Assistance Programme and the Food Voucher Programme. These are critical investments and tools for reducing disparities.
He added that “the Government of Fiji continues its support towards existing initiatives such as the bus fare subsidy programme, free text books, upgrading of school infrastructure and equipping of schools. We now need to use these programs to further address disparities in health, nutrition and protection, and to protect families affected by economic shocks and natural disasters.”
This report provides a snapshot of the situation of children in areas such as health, education and child protection, with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable children. It reveals achievements and disparities for children existing within the country. It also examines progress made towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular those goals and targets with special relevance to children.
In thanking UNICEF, Mr. Wise said “let us therefore use the information from the report to formulate policies that are child-centred. Policies, for instance, that will enable children to have an adequate standard of living with access to clean and safe drinking water, free education and improved health facilities.”
For more information, please contact Communications Specialist- External Relations, Donna Hoerder, UNICEF on (679) 3236 100 or (679) 9265 518