X. Every nation has a role to play
Investing in human capital, particularly in children, has the
greatest return on the dollar. Although not immediately evident,
this investment is the most effective tool in ending worldwide
Investing in adolescents like these engrossed
in a multimedia workshop in Bahia, Brazil, provides vital
leadership to guide the world further into this new millennium.
Misguided leaders, seeking quick fixes or instant recognition,
are often eager to invest in concrete, visible payoffs. The photo
opportunities are countless. Political leaders stand with a new
road as a backdrop. Chief executive officers announce advances
in telecommunication where people can participate in meetings
across the globe without having to leave their homes. Scientists
parade cloned sheep before cameras.
It's not as glamorous to pose with an immunized, well-fed, mentally
alert baby, or a child learning to read and write or a teenager
learning leadership skills. Yet, providing for the well-being
of future leaders is far more critical to development.
To fulfil the promise of the Convention
on the Rights of the Child, every child must have a healthy
start, access to quality basic education and the skills to forge
a productive future.
When countries invest in children early childhood care,
quality basic education and life skills for adolescents
the results are startling.
In Colombia, toddlers involved in early childhood care are twice
as likely to complete primary school than those without pre-school
Quality education especially for girls is the quickest
way of tackling poverty. Education has proven to be the most potent
antidote to child labour and HIV infection.
Investing in adolescents provides vital leadership to guide
the world further into this new millennium. Providing them with
skills in negotiation, problem-solving, conflict resolution, decision-making
and communication bodes well for reducing poverty, armed conflict
and plagues in the future.
The beginnings of a foundation have been laid. Every nation,
from the most powerful to the most humble, must contribute. The
20/20 Initiative requests nations to commit
an average of 20 per cent of budgetary expenditures and 20 per
cent of official development assistance to basic social services
education, health care, family planning, adequate water
and sanitation and disaster relief.
Now is the time to strengthen the cornerstones and begin to
construct the future.