To­wards a World Free from Child Poverty

China Today (English) - - CHINA WATCH - By staff re­porter ZHOU LIN

EX­PE­RI­ENC­ING poverty in child­hood has a pro­found im­pact on the growth of chil­dren, as their phys­i­cal and men­tal health shape their fu­tures. Re­duc­ing child poverty, es­pe­cially with a fo­cus on chil­dren liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas, and pro­mot­ing their healthy growth and over­all de­vel­op­ment, is an im­por­tant way not only to break the in­ter-gen­er­a­tional cy­cle of poverty, but also to im­ple­ment the long- term poverty alle­vi­a­tion strat­egy, achieve the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, and pro­mote so­cial de­vel­op­ment and so­cial eq­uity,” said Dr. Zuo Chang­sheng, di­rec­tor- gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Poverty Re­duc­tion Cen­ter in China (IPRCC) at the par­al­lel ses­sion of 2017 Global Poverty Re­duc­tion and De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum with the theme of “To­wards a World Free from Child Poverty: Mul­ti­di­men­sional Child Poverty,” co-or­ga­nized by IPRCC and UNICEF.

Poverty Threat­ens Chil­dren’s Lives

Around the world, chil­dren are over­rep­re­sented in pop­u­la­tions liv­ing in ex­treme poverty. The ef­fects of poverty on young chil­dren are of­ten ir­re­versible be­cause they can af­fect a kid’s phys­i­cal, men­tal, and emo­tional de­vel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, if chil­dren do not get ad­e­quate nutri­tion in their first two years, they can be­come stunted for life.

UNICEF’s statis­tics show that in China’s re­mote ru­ral ar­eas, the liv­ing ex­penses of 15 mil­lion chil­dren is less than RMB eight per day. Over one third of chil­dren are left be­hind as their par­ents seek work in more de­vel­oped ar­eas. The mor­tal­ity rate of ru­ral chil­dren un­der five years old is dou­ble that in ur­ban ar­eas, and the growth re­tar­da­tion rate triples. The gross ad­mis­sion rate of preschool ed­u­ca­tion is also lower in ru­ral China.

The UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals pro­posed to halve the pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren mired in poverty by 2030, and even­tu­ally end poverty in all forms ev­ery­where.

Putting chil­dren first in na­tional poverty alle­vi­a­tion ef­forts is the most ef­fec­tive way of break­ing the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional cy­cle of poverty, sup­port­ing chil­dren to grow and de­velop to their fullest po­ten­tial, and driv­ing na­tional de­vel­op­ment and growth.

In 2011, in or­der to meet the needs of child de­vel­op­ment and break the tran­si­tion of poverty from one gen­er­a­tion to the next, the Chi­nese govern­ment is­sued the Na­tional Pro­gram for Child De­vel­op­ment (2011-2020), propos­ing ma­jor tar­gets and poli­cies in five ar­eas: health, ed­u­ca­tion, wel­fare, so­cial en­vi­ron­ment, and le­gal pro­tec­tion. At the same time, the Ru­ral Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram (2011-2020) clearly stip­u­lates the im­por­tance of ru­ral child de­vel­op­ment for poverty alle­vi­a­tion and re­quires govern­ment at all levels to give pri­or­ity to women and chil­dren.

De­vel­op­ing Chil­dren’s Fullest Po­ten­tial

Through­out the par­al­lel ses­sion, ex­perts from the govern­ment, non-profit, pri­vate, and aca­demic sec­tors as well as in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions dis­cussed the dif­fer­ent di­men­sions of end­ing child poverty and its sig­nif­i­cance, and shared the ex­pe­ri­ence of es­tab­lish­ing Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment (ECD) cen­ters in Hubei Prov­ince.

The moun­tain­ous re­gion in Cen­tral China’s Hubei Prov­ince is gloomy and cold in early win­ter. In a small ac­tiv­ity room of Wangji­ap­ing Vil­lage, eight chil­dren and their par­ents sit to­gether, with books and toys stacked in one corner.

Since 2012, with UNICEF China’s as­sis­tance, the All-China Women’s Fed­er­a­tion has set up com­mu­nity-based ECD cen­ters in poor ru­ral ar­eas af­fected by ur­ban mi­gra­tion in Hubei, Hu­nan, and other provinces. Wangji­ap­ing of Wufeng County is a pi­lot vil­lage. UNICEF has

UNICEF’s ex­pert Li Tong pays a reg­u­lar visit to the ECD cen­ter es­tab­lished in a vil­lage of Hubei Prov­ince and teaches par­ents bet­ter ways to raise their chil­dren.

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