Children of Kazakhstan

The mission of UNICEF in the young country is to mobilize its potential for the happy childhood of every child in Kazakhstan and promotion of children's rights at the national, regional and global levels.

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Children of Kazakhstan: situation overview

Childhood is the most important stage in human development, since exactly during this period the foundation for a healthy, successful and happy life is laid. Supporting child development is the strategic goal of society.

There are 5,623,387 children in Kazakhstan aged from 0 to 17 years, which is about 31% of the population. Since 2008, when the country switched to international criteria for live birth, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in reducing infant mortality. Neonatal mortality rates have been reduced by more than 50%.

However, despite a significant decline, infant mortality in Kazakhstan is still relevant. In the regions, programs for perinatal and neonatal care and care for sick newborns are not working effectively. UNICEF provides technical assistance to improve the skills and qualifications of health workers to support early childhood development.

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Больница в Усть-Каменогорск

About 3% of children in Kazakhstan are registered with disabilities and special needs. This rate is significantly inferior to 10-15% in other world countries. This difference is primarily due to the difference in the methodology for determining children with disabilities from those in other countries - Kazakhstan still considers the medical side of disability.

Although the coverage of children with special needs with education is growing, more than 10,000 school-age children with disabilities and special needs are educated at home, which makes it difficult for them to socialize. While in rural areas, children in this category have even fewer opportunities to access education and rehabilitation services, thus they are isolated from communication with their peers. 

More than 10,000 school-age children with disabilities and special needs are educated at home, which makes it difficult for them to socialize.

Despite the first positive changes in legislation and improvement of payments and services, so far, only 28.6% of children with a registered disability are covered by special social services.

One of the goals of UNICEF in Kazakhstan is to ensure that the rights and interests of absolutely all children with special needs are respected, considered at the legislative level and implemented through joint social inclusion and material aid programs.

Ребенок с инвалидностью

Poverty remains relevant, as more than 90% of poor families in the country are multi-child families, and children constitute more than 40% of all Kazakhstanis living below the poverty line. Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life: malnutrition, lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, health status, and longevity.

UNICEF, together with the Government, is working to improve the targeting and effectiveness of social assistance programs so that multi-child families in need receive the necessary social support.

From 2009 to 2017, juvenile offenders decreased by 53%.

The country has seen a decline in children in contact with the law. From 2009 to 2017, juvenile offenders decreased by 53%

  • reduction by 66% in convicted children
  • decrease by 65% in children in detention centers
  • children in prisons decreased 9 times (from 449 in 2009 to 49 in 2017). 

While crimes committed by children decreases, crimes against children keep growing. Many crimes against children remain undetected and unreported.

UNICEF is supporting the further development of alternative justice, probation and social rehabilitation of minors in conflict with the law. There is active cooperation with law enforcement and judicial authorities in terms of staff professionalization and training.

The research conducted by UNICEF together with the Human Rights Ombudsman between 2010 and 2016 showed that about 75% of adults support corporal punishment to discipline children in the family, and 67% of parents use violent forms of child-rearing.

A rather narrow understanding of the term “violence”, often limited solely by corporal impact, is a serious obstacle to the eradication of violence.

UNICEF in Kazakhstan launched two communication campaigns aimed at preventing violence against children and promoting a friendly approach to children in contact with the law.