VII. Good for children, good for the world
The World Bank and UNICEF studies confirm what is known intuitively:
Investing in children is the wisest investment a country can make.
A mother plays with her baby son while
they wait to see a doctor at a UNICEF-assisted clinic in
Ksour Essef, Tunisia.
In evaluating why East Asia's economic successes far surpassed
that of sub-Saharan Africa during the 1970s and 1980s, the World
Bank concluded that it was investment in children's health, nutrition
and education that anchored the region's economic victories.
Wise leaders know that focused spending in early
childhood care, good basic education and adolescent programmes
is a proven means of ensuring the rights of children and the wealth
Spending that promotes the health and well-being of babies and
toddlers and ensures their rights saves later expenditures for
remediation, rehabilitation, unemployment and incarceration for
those left out.
Quality basic education especially for girls pays
off for girls, families and nations. Educated girls delay marriage,
have fewer children and seek health care for themselves and their
families. This in turn reduces child mortality, improves children's
health and nutrition and decelerates the upwardly spiralling population.
Educating girls has the highest return on the dollar of all investments
available in the developing world.
What's more, education offers the best hope for combating the
brutality of child labour and the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
The final component of a smart investment portfolio is the money
spent on programmes for adolescents. These older children are
most vulnerable to the major threats to child
rights: HIV/AIDS, sexual exploitation, child labour and armed
conflict in which they serve as child soldiers.
Adolescents have the right to relevant and reliable information
as they face and make choices that set the course of their lives.
They have the right to learn the skills that will help them succeed.
In their success lies the world's future.
For additional information on topics mentioned in the text, click
on the links below:
The World Bank
For an extended treatment of the importance of Early Childhood
Care and Development, see The State of the
World's Children, 2001
For an extended treatment of the issues surrounding education,
see The State of the World's Children, 1999
For an extended treatment on the effects of child labour, see
The State of the World's Children, 1997