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Following the end of a bloody civil conflict that dragged on for more that a decade, Algeria has made progress toward peace and stability in recent years. The government is working with UNICEF to create a protective environment for children. But violence remains a serious issue in schools and in the home.
Issues facing children in Algeria
- The nutritional status of young children has not improved since 2002.
- A study conducted by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF revealed that corporal punishment is still commonly practiced in schools. Violence in schools is associated with learning difficulties and early dropouts.
- School completion rates are declining. In 2005, some 500,000 teens dropped out.
- A recent study on child labour revealed that more than a quarter of children are working. Many rural children work with their parents.
- It is estimated that 1 out of every 20 children abuses tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
- Institutional challenges in departments such as the Ministries of Health and Education have hampered the implementation of some initiatives for children. Ambitious plans to introduce maternal care and universal education for girls and boys have yet to be fulfilled.
Activities and results for children
- Infant and maternal mortality rates continue to decline. Mothers and children now enjoy wider access to medical care and improved services.
- Immunization coverage against the primary childhood diseases is above 80 per cent.
- UNICEF and its partners are promoting water conservation in arid regions, including the Tindouf refugee camps.
- Significant strides have been made to ensure that girls realize their right to an education. In the last few years, almost two thirds of high-school diploma candidates were girls.
- UNICEF and the Ministry of Education have developed a new national policy that will create early childhood education programmes for children from ages three to six.
- The “Child-Friendly Schools” initiative has been launched in some 40 schools. These schools aim to provide a stimulating, healthy and supportive environment for learning.
- Some 650 educators have attended training sessions on strategies for preventing violence in schools.
- With UNICEF support, the Ministry of Family and Women has developed a National Plan of Action for women and children affected by violence. Standard procedures and a reliable support system have been created to respond more effectively to individual cases.
- UNICEF is assisting the Ministry of Justice in the implementation of a new Child Protection Code.
- Algerian National Radio has partnered with UNICEF to promote the rights of children, support national literacy campaigns and develop teaching and training materials for Saharawi refugee women.