What's new this year
Foreword, by Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General
of the United Nations
Our promise to the world’s children, from
Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel
Choices to be made: The opening
section makes the case for investing in the earliest years of childhood,
before the age of three, when brain development is most malleable and
rights are most vulnerable. It sets out the options governments have about
where and when to make investments to ensure that children under three
have their rights protected and their needs met. And it introduces the
importance of early childhood development programmes, not only for children,
their parents and caregivers, but for the progress of nations as a whole.
- The importance of ages 0-3 years: "In
the first moments, months and years of life, every touch, movement and
emotion in a young child’s life translates into an explosion of electrical
and chemical activity in the brain, as billions of cells are organizing
themselves into networks requiring trillions of synapses between them."
- Choices: "Thus, the options before leaders
who are striving to do what’s best for children and best for their country
- ECD: "Programmes built on the fact that
there is an indivisibility and unity to the rights of children hold
the greatest promise for children’s health and well-being and for that
of their families and communities."
- Caring for children = caring for women: "Emphasizing
the care of babies and toddlers means focusing also on women whose physical
and emotional condition influences their pregnancies and their babies’
- A cycle of hope and change: "There is
a strategic approach to realizing the rights of children and women with
great potential for cutting through the cycles of deprivation, disease,
violence and discrimination that currently drain the lives and spirits
of children and adolescents around the globe."
- Special Session on Children: "The United
Nations General Assembly’s Special Session on Children takes place in
A necessary choice: Attention to
the youngest children is most needed where it is most difficult to guarantee:
in countries where the seemingly intractable grip of poverty, violence
and devastating epidemics seriously challenge parents hopes and
dreams for their children. This section argues that early childcare can
act as an effective antidote to cycles of violence, conflict, poverty
- Challenges to ECD: "Why has the decision
to invest in ECD, so seemingly the best public policy for responsible
leaders, not been made in every community and every country?"
- The effects of poverty on early childhood:
"When poverty engulfs a family, the youngest are the most affected
and most vulnerable — their rights to survival, growth and development
- The effects of violence against women on early
childhood: "As violence strikes at the rights of women in every
phase of their lives, infants and young children are twice exposed."
- The effects of armed conflict on early childhood:
"On any given day, more than 20 armed conflicts are being fought
around the world, most in poor countries."
- The effects of HIV/AIDS on early childhood:
"Today, 34.3 million people in the world live with HIV/AIDS, including
1.3 million children under 15 years of age."
- Breaking the cycles: "To break these cycles
of poverty, violence and disease, interventions must come early in life,
the earlier the better."
The only responsible choice:
Parents struggle, often against great odds, to do right by their children.
In industrialized and developing countries alike they find advice and
aid from informal support networks and community agencies with innovative
childcare programmes. The final section describes these experiments and
experiences and makes the case why, in the long run, investment in ECD
- Programmes that work: "ECD has saved millions
of lives and improved millions more."
- Costs and funding: "The cost of an ECD
programme depends on the nature and extent of the services it offers."
- A costly mistake: "But choosing not to
provide the earliest care for all children is the costliest mistake
- So why not?: "Programmes that work, outstanding
returns on investment, ways to meet legal and moral commitments all
beg the question: If early childhood care is such a far-sighted and
wise choice for countries, why the failure to invest adequate resources
to guarantee every child the best possible start in life?"
- Fundamental changes: "ECD is the necessary
first step to making life better for children but, in itself, it is
- “… no task nobler than giving children a better
future.”: "The lives of children and women are the truest indicators
of the strength of communities and nations."
No single formula
The first step
1. Early brain development: A firestorm of
2. Families, child rights and participatory
research in Nepal
3. Healthy pregnancies: Protecting the rights
of both women and children
4. Iniciativa Papa: Improving the lives of
children, one father at a time
5. Paternity leave, baths and evils spirits
6. Guest voice The vortex where
values are worthless by Ernesto Sábato
7. Respecting the rights of the Indian child
8. Guest voice Child survival and
the agency of women by Amartya Sen
1. In the rural parishes of Jamaica
2. The youngest refugees in the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
3. Childcare practices in Malawi
4. Effective parenting in Turkey
5. Wawa Wasi for working parents in Peru
6. Converging services in the Philippines
7. A media culture in Maldives
for and about children
8. The importance of early detection
the case of Jordan
Brain development: Some critical periods
The rights of young children
The short-term and long-term effects of early nutrition
Effects of maternal exposure to famine
Early intervention reduces the disadvantage of stunting
Maternal literacy and child development
HIV and mortality among children under five years old
Hazards to child health in the environment
Third-graders scores on mathematics tests
Head Start programme conceptual framework
Debt overshadows basic social services
Three maps illustrating quality of life indicators for early childhood;
the link between the status of women and the well-being of children; and
the challenges to childrens growth and development.
Eight tables with 193 countries listed alphabetically, regional summaries
and world totals, present the latest data on the well-being of children.
Countries are first ranked in descending order of their estimated 1999
under-five mortality rate, which is then included in each of the following
The rate of progress