Significant Progress Made in Fulfilling Children’s Rights, Yet Gaps Still Exist
UNICEF and Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination Launch Children’s Atlas of Social Indicators
HONIARA, 20 July 2012 – “Children constitute over 50 per cent of the entire Solomon Islands population. Their well-being is central to the well-being of the nation. Our country has made significant progress in fulfilling children’s rights and safeguarding their development and well-being.”
Permanent Secretary for Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Mr. Jeremiah Manele made these remarks when providing an overview of the report at today’s launch of “Children in Solomon Islands 2011: An Atlas of Social Indicators.” However,” he added, “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. However, urban children also experience relatively higher rates of poverty. The report shows that nearly 40% of children in Honiara live in households in the lowest income brackets. Children living in poverty are the least likely to complete primary and secondary education.
Other challenges that remain include the high infant and child mortality rates with many children still dying from preventable causes, only 40 percent of young children accessing Early Childhood Education (kindergartens), half of all children completing primary school not progressing into secondary school and about 74% of households in rural areas lacking adequate water and proper toilet facilities which contributes to diarrheal diseases and illnesses, especially in children.
In closing the launching of the report, UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Isiye Ndombi congratulated the Solomon Islands Government for working with UNICEF and providing valuable information specifically on the country’s children and women.
Dr. Isiye congratulated the Government for initiatives undertaken by them such as the Early Childhood Education policy in 2008 which was designed to help make Early Childhood Centers more accessible to young children aged three to five years, as well as the National Development Strategy 2011 to 2020. “Although ambitious the Development Strategy has an overarching theme, ‘To Build Better Lives for all Solomon Islanders,’ and was the result of country wide consultations with stakeholders in different levels of government, civil society and the private sector,” he said. These are critical investments and plans for reducing disparities.
The Atlas 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. The Atlas analyzes and communicates data and figures from national surveys, health and education system information systems and other studies and reports by Government and development partners.
In thanking UNICEF, Mr. Manele said “Let us therefore use the information from the report to continue formulating 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 (677) 767 3035 or (679) 9265 518