The U.N. delivered grim news on global food security Wednesday: 2.4 billion people didn’t have constant access to food last year, as many as 783 million faced hunger, and 148 million children suffered from stunted growth. Five U.N. agencies said in the 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition report that while global hunger numbers stalled between 2021 and 2022 many places are facing deepening food crises. They pointed to Western Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, where 20% of the continent’s population is experiencing hunger, more than twice the global average. “Recovery from the global pandemic has been uneven, and the war in Ukraine has affected the nutritious food and healthy diets,” Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement. “This is the `new normal’ where climate change, conflict, and economic instability are pushing those on the margins even further from safety.” FAO chief economist Maximo Torero said the FAO food price index has been declining for about 15 months, but “food inflation has continued.” But he said not knowing if the deal that has enabled Ukraine to ship 32 metric tons of grain to world markets and is trying to overcome obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer shipments will be renewed when it expires on July 17 “is not good for the markets.” UN warns its development goals for 2030 are in trouble and 575 million people will remain very poor If it isn’t renewed immediately “you will have a new spike for sure” in food prices, but how much and for how long will depend on how markets respond, he said. According to the report, people’s access to healthy diets has deteriorated across the world. More than 3.1 billion people – 42% of the global population – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021, an increase of 134 million people compared to 2019, it said. Torero told a news conference launching the report that reducing the number of people eating unhealthy diets “is a big challenge, because it’s basically telling us that we have substantially to change the way we use our resources in the agricultural sector, in the agri-food system.” According to the latest research, he said, between 691 million and 783 million people were chronically undernourished in 2022, an average of 735 million which is 122 million more people than in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Eliminate legal barriers to women owning land: UN chief Torero said U.N. projections for 2030 indicate that 600 million people will still be suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2030, far from the U.N. development goal of achieving “Zero Hunger” by that date. In the report’s foreword, the heads of FAO, the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization wrote that achieving Zero Hunger “poses a daunting challenge.” They called for redoubled efforts “to transform agri-food systems and leverage them” to reach the target. As for children, the report says they are continuing to suffer from malnutrition, with not only 148 million younger than 5 stunted but 45 million too thin for their height or “wasted,” while 37 million youngsters were overweight. Torero said the five agencies also looked at increased urbanization and found that people in rural and semi-urban areas are also consuming mass market products. “Normally, we used to believe that rural people will consume what they produce, but that’s not the case,” he said, explaining that in rural areas about 30% of the family’s food basket is purchased from the market, and in semi-urban and urban areas it is higher, which has implications for nutrition because of the consumption of more processed foods. WFP chief economist Arif Husain told reporters in a virtual briefing that in 2022 when the war in Ukraine was ongoing the food situation didn’t get worse because the donor community stepped up with about $14.2 billion, and the agency was able to provide aid to 160 million people, up from 97 million in 2019. Stop targeting truth, truth-tellers: UN Chief on World Press Freedom Day “My concern is that moving forward we are looking at huge funding cuts,” he said, citing WFP donations of just $4.2 billion by last week, 29% lower than at the same time last year.
The trail of destruction left by Cyclone Mocha in parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar is causing severe disruption to the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families, including many already living in dire conditions, says UNICEF on Wednesday. Even as the worst of the storm has passed, the risk of landslides remains high, and further dangers, including waterborne diseases, will likely grow in the days ahead. Cyclone Mocha hit the coastlines of Bangladesh and Myanmar on 14 May, at around 15:00 local time, bringing heavy rainfall, storm surges, and strong winds reaching 175 mph. "Some of the world's most vulnerable children and families are, yet again, at the sharp end of a crisis they didn't create. The areas hit hardest by the storm are home to communities already living through conflict, poverty, instability, and climate and environmental shocks," said UNICEF's Executive Director Catherine Russell. Also read: US providing $250,000 to assist Cyclone Mocha emergency relief efforts: Peter Haas "As we urgently assess and respond to the immediate needs of children in the aftermath of this cyclone, we know with certainty that the best way to save and improve the lives of children and their families is by finding long-term solutions." In Bangladesh, home to the world's largest refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, one million Rohingya refugees faced the brunt of the heavy storms, half of them children. The refugee camps rank among the most tightly packed places on earth, exposing children to conditions ripe for disease, malnutrition, neglect, exploitation, and violence. The camps are also prone to mudslides, and children live in fragile temporary shelters. Cyclone Mocha has tied with 2019's Tropical Cyclone Fani as the strongest storm ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean. Scientists recently found that, while disaster management efforts have reduced the number of deaths during cyclones in recent years, climate change is threatening this progress. They noted that escalating frequency and intensity of storms will pose a far greater risk to Bangladesh in the coming decades. While Cox's Bazar was spared the eye of the storm, thousands of people have been affected and several temporary shelters, facilities, and infrastructure that refugees have been provided have flooded and left severely damaged due to heavy winds and rains. Timely and urgent humanitarian access to the affected areas in both countries is critical. UNICEF is on the ground, assessing needs, and providing emergency relief. Together with local partners, UNICEF is prepositioning and deploying supplies in Bangladesh and Myanmar to ramp up our response services, including water and sanitation, child protection, health, nutrition, and education. By late Sunday, the storm weakened, leaving behind destroyed homes, health facilities, schools, and other critical infrastructure. Many of the hundreds of thousands of people affected are refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs), living in poorly structured shelters in camps and hard-to-reach areas. They rely heavily on humanitarian assistance for food, water, health, education, and protection. The situation is particularly worrisome in Myanmar. More than 16 million people – 5.6 million of them children – including 1.2 million internally displaced people of Rohingya, ethnic Rakhine and other communities, were in the path of the cyclone in Rakhine State, and locations in the north-west including Chin State and Sagaing and Magway Regions. The areas are low-lying and highly prone to flooding landslides. Assessments of the extent of the damage in Myanmar are challenging, largely due to interrupted transport and telecommunication services and inaccessibility of some roads due to trees falling and debris. However, early reports show that children were reportedly among the victims of the storm.
In Bangladesh, 51 per cent of young women were married in childhood, according to a new report which used data from the Bangladesh 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. Bangladesh has the highest prevalence of child marriage in South Asia and the eighth highest prevalence in the world, according to a new analysis issued by UNICEF today. Approximately 34.5 million women in Bangladesh were married before they turned 18 and over 13 million women were married before they turned 15. “Children should not be married. Despite progress, the number of child brides in Bangladesh is staggering. Millions of girls are being robbed of their childhood, and denied their fundamental rights. We need urgent and concerted action to protect girls, to ensure that they stay in school, and have the opportunity to grow up to their fullest potential,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. Despite a steady decline in child marriage in the last decade, multiple crises including conflict, climate shocks, and the ongoing fallout from COVID-19 are threatening to reverse hard-earned gains, according to a new analysis issued by UNICEF today. “The world is engulfed by crises on top of crises that are crushing the hopes and dreams of vulnerable children, especially girls who should be students, not brides,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Health and economic crises, escalating armed conflicts, and the ravaging effects of climate change are forcing families to seek a false sense of refuge in child marriage. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that their rights to an education and empowered lives are secured.” Worldwide, an estimated 640 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, or 12 million girls per year, according to the latest global estimate included in the analysis. The share of young women who married in childhood has declined from 21 per cent to 19 per cent since the last estimates were released five years ago. However, in spite of this progress, global reductions would have to be 20 times faster to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of ending child marriage by 2030. Meanwhile, South Asia continues to drive global reductions and is on pace to eliminate child marriage in about 55 years, the report notes. However, the region remains home to nearly half (45 per cent) of the world's child brides. While India has recorded significant progress in recent decades, it still accounts for one-third of the global total. Sub-Saharan Africa – which currently shoulders the second largest global share of child brides (20 per cent) – is over 200 years away from ending the practice at its current pace. Rapid population growth, alongside ongoing crises, look set to increase the number of child brides, in contrast with the declines expected in the rest of the world. Latin America and the Caribbean is also falling behind and on course to have the second-highest regional level of child marriage by 2030. After periods of steady progress, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia have also stagnated. Girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences. They are less likely to remain in school, and face an increased risk of early pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of child and maternal health complications and mortality. The practice can also isolate girls from family and friends, and exclude them from participating in their communities, taking a heavy toll on their mental health and well-being. Worldwide, conflict, climate-related disasters, and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 – especially rising poverty, income shocks, and school dropout – are helping to increase the drivers of child marriage while also making it difficult for girls to access health care, education, social services and community support that protect them from child marriage. As a result, girls living in fragile settings are twice as likely to become child brides as the average girl globally, the analysis notes. For every ten-fold increase in conflict-related deaths, there is a 7 per cent increase in the number of child marriages. At the same time, extreme weather events driven by climate change increase a girl's risk, with every 10 per cent deviation in rainfall connected to around a 1 per cent increase in the prevalence of child marriage. Precious gains to end child marriage in the past decade are also being threatened – or even reversed – by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the analysis warns. It is estimated that the pandemic has already cut the number of averted child marriages since 2020 by one-quarter. "We’ve proven that progress to end child marriage is possible. It requires unwavering support for vulnerable girls and families,” added Russell. “We must focus on keeping girls in school and making sure they have economic opportunities."
This Ramadan, UNICEF is launching a large-scale campaign to raise funds for malnourished children in Bangladesh. For the first time, the fundraising campaign is taking place inside Bangladesh, appealing to the growing affluent class who are more able to donate towards helping children in their own country. With a strong economy, Bangladesh reached lower-middle-income country status in 2015 and aims to become an upper-middle-income country by 2031. At the same time, the country’s economic progress and success mean that Bangladesh receives less foreign aid. Read More: Multiple crises set to plunge more children into poverty, ILO and UNICEF report warns “The economic progress in Bangladesh has created enhanced opportunities for us to take care of the underprivileged section of our population and to ensure that we leave no one behind. The success of Bangladesh needs to be reflected through the children, who are our future and who also depend on us for their education, healthcare and well-being,” said Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary of the Government of Bangladesh. UNICEF – which is funded entirely through voluntary contributions – has been on the ground in Bangladesh for over 70 years, saving children’s lives and protecting children’s rights. Globally, UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. The UNICEF Ramadan fundraising campaign is a first-ever invitation from UNICEF to people in Bangladesh to let their good deeds echo for malnourished children around the country together with UNICEF. Read More: UNICEF wants investment in world's first child-focused climate risk financing solution The most common forms of malnutrition are stunting (low height for age) or wasting (low weight for height). Bangladesh has made impressive progress in addressing malnutrition. Stunting was reduced from 42 per cent in 2013 to 28 per cent in 2019. Yet, over five million Bangladeshi children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition. Stunting is caused by chronic or recurring undernutrition, and the damage done to a child’s body and brain by stunting cannot be reversed. It drags down performance at school and later at work, and puts a child at a higher risk of dying from infectious diseases. Wasting is an acute form of undernourishment which can be fatal. It is characterized by recent and severe weight loss which is often caused by lack of food and by disease. Children born to the poorest families are more likely to suffer from stunting and wasting. And when disasters such as floods strike, these already vulnerable children are at heightened risk. Read More: Heatwaves to impact almost every child by 2050: UNICEF report “There is no greater cause than championing children’s health, education and rights. This Ramadan, UNICEF invites the people of Bangladesh to join hands with UNICEF to help the most vulnerable children in their own country,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.
The number of children without access to social protection is increasing year-on-year, leaving them at risk of poverty, hunger and discrimination, according to a new report released today by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF. According to the report, an additional 50 million children (aged 0-15) missed out on a critical social protection provision – specifically, child benefits (paid in cash or tax credits) – between 2016 and 2020, driving up the total to 1.46 billion children under 15 globally. “Ultimately, strengthened efforts to ensure adequate investment in universal social protection for children, ideally through universal child benefits to support families at all times, is the ethical and rational choice, and the one that paves the way to sustainable development and social justice,” Shahra Razavi, director of Social Protection Department at the ILO, said. Child and family benefit coverage rates fell or stagnated in every region in the world between 2016 and 2020, leaving no country on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving substantial social protection coverage by 2030, as per the report. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, coverage fell significantly from approximately 51 percent to 42 percent. In many other regions, coverage has stalled and remains low. In Central and South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia, and North Africa coverage rates have been at around 21 percent, 14 percent, 11 percent and 28 percent respectively since 2016. Failure to provide children with adequate social protection leaves them vulnerable to poverty, disease, missed education, and poor nutrition, and increases risk of child marriage and child labour. Globally, children are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty – those struggling to survive on less than US$ 1.90 (PPP*) a day – approximately 356 million children. A billion children also live in multidimensional poverty – meaning without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation, or water. Children living in multidimensional poverty increased by 15 percent during the Covid-19 pandemic, reversing previous progress in reducing child poverty and highlighting the urgent need for social protection. Moreover, the pandemic highlighted that social protection is a critical response in times of crisis. Nearly every government in the world either rapidly adapted existing schemes or introduced new social protection programmes to support children and families, but most fell short of making permanent reforms to protect against future shocks, according to the report. “As families face increasing economic hardship, food insecurity, conflict, and climate-related disasters, universal child benefits can be a lifeline,” said Natalia Winder-Rossi, UNICEF Director of Social Policy and Social Protection. “There is an urgent need to strengthen, expand and invest in child-friendly and shock-responsive social protection systems. This is essential to protect children from living in poverty and increase resilience particularly among the poorest households.” The report emphasizes that all countries, irrespective of their level of development, have a choice: whether to pursue a “high-road” strategy of investment in reinforcing social protection systems, or a “low-road” strategy that misses out on necessary investments and will leave millions of children behind. To reverse the negative trend, ILO and UNICEF urge policymakers to take decisive steps to attain universal social protection for all children, including: · Investing in child benefits which offer a proven and cost-effective way to combat child poverty and ensure children thrive. · Providing a comprehensive range of child benefits through national social protection systems that also connect families to crucial health and social services, such as free or affordable high-quality childcare. · Building social protection systems that are rights-based, gender-responsive, inclusive, and shock responsive to address inequities and deliver better results for girls and women, migrant children, and children in child labour for example. · Securing sustainable financing for social protection systems by mobilizing domestic resources and increasing budget allocation for children. Strengthening social protection for parents and caregivers by guaranteeing access to decent work and adequate benefits, including unemployment, sickness, maternity, disability, and pensions.
Every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, according to the latest estimates released today in a report by United Nations (UN) agencies. The report, ‘Trends in maternal mortality’, reveals alarming setbacks for women’s health over recent years, as maternal deaths either increased or stagnated in nearly all regions of the world. “While pregnancy should be a time of immense hope and a positive experience for all women, it is tragically still a shockingly dangerous experience for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “These new statistics reveal the urgent need to ensure every woman and girl has access to critical health services before, during and after childbirth, and that they can fully exercise their reproductive rights,” he added. Read More: UNICEF lauds Bangladesh’ breakthrough to accelerate universal birth registration The report, which tracks maternal deaths nationally, regionally and globally from 2000 to 2020, shows there were an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2020. This marks only a slight decrease from 309,000 in 2016 when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into effect. While the report presents some significant progress in reducing maternal deaths between 2000 and 2015, gains largely stalled, or in some cases even reversed, after this point. In two of the eight UN regions – Europe and Northern America, and Latin America and the Caribbean – the maternal mortality rate increased from 2016 to 2020, by 17% and 15% respectively. Elsewhere, the rate stagnated. The report notes, however, that progress is possible. For example, two regions – Australia and New Zealand, and Central and Southern Asia – experienced significant declines (by 35% and 16% respectively) in their maternal mortality rates during the same period, as did 31 countries across the world. Read More: Majority of children with disabilities are not enrolled in any formal education: Survey “For millions of families, the miracle of childbirth is marred by the tragedy of maternal deaths,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “No mother should have to fear for her life while bringing a baby into the world, especially when the knowledge and tools to treat common complications exist. Equity in healthcare gives every mother, no matter who they are or where they are, a fair chance at a safe delivery and a healthy future with their family.” In total numbers, maternal deaths continue to be largely concentrated in the poorest parts of the world and in countries affected by conflict. In 2020, about 70% of all maternal deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa. In nine countries facing severe humanitarian crises, maternal mortality rates were more than double the world average (551 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 223 globally). Read More: More Rohingya female teachers need training for increasing literacy among their community “This report provides yet another stark reminder of the urgent need to double down on our commitment to women and adolescent health,” said Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank, and Director of the Global Financing Facility. “With immediate action, more investments in primary health care and stronger, more resilient health systems, we can save lives, improve health and well-being, and advance the rights of and opportunities for women and adolescents.” Severe bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, complications from unsafe abortion, and underlying conditions that can be aggravated by pregnancy (such as HIV/AIDS and malaria) are the leading causes of maternal deaths. These are all largely preventable and treatable with access to high-quality and respectful healthcare. Community-centered primary health care can meet the needs of women, children and adolescents and enable equitable access to critical services such as assisted births and pre- and postnatal care, childhood vaccinations, nutrition and family planning. However, underfunding of primary health care systems, a lack of trained health care workers, and weak supply chains for medical products are threatening progress. Read More: When classrooms are child-friendly and safe, children are motivated to learn, research shows Roughly a third of women do not have even four of the recommended eight antenatal checks or receive essential postnatal care, while some 270 million women lack access to modern family planning methods. Exercising control over their reproductive health – particularly decisions about if and when to have children – is critical to ensure that women can plan and space childbearing and protect their health. Inequities related to income, education, race or ethnicity further increase risks for marginalized pregnant women, who have the least access to essential maternity care but are most likely to experience underlying health problems in pregnancy. "It is unacceptable that so many women continue to die needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth. Over 280,000 fatalities in a single year is unconscionable,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “We can and must do better by urgently investing in family planning and filling the global shortage of 900,000 midwives so that every woman can get the lifesaving care she needs. We have the tools, knowledge and resources to end preventable maternal deaths; what we need now is the political will." Read More: Bangladesh ranks top among the countries to receive free Covid vaccine from WHO: Health minister The COVID-19 pandemic may have further held back progress on maternal health. Noting the current data series ends in 2020, more data will be needed to show the true impacts of the pandemic on maternal deaths. However, COVID-19 infections can increase risks during pregnancy, so countries should take action to ensure pregnant women and those planning pregnancies have access to COVID-19 vaccines and effective antenatal care. “Reducing maternal mortality remains one of the most pressing global health challenges,” said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “Ending preventable maternal deaths and providing universal access to quality maternal health care require sustained national and international efforts and unwavering commitments, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every mother, everywhere, survives childbirth, so that she and her children can thrive." The report reveals that the world must significantly accelerate progress to meet global targets for reducing maternal deaths, or risk the lives of over 1 million more women by 2030. Read More: There are more than 2.3 million cases of breast cancer that occur each year: WHO
More than half of children with disabilities in Bangladesh are not enrolled in any formal education, according to new national-level data revealed on Tuesday. The findings come from the recently-published National Survey on Persons with Disabilities (NSPD) 2021, conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) with technical support from UNICEF. The survey reveals that among children with disabilities (aged 5-17 years), only 65 per cent are enrolled in primary school and only 35 per cent are enrolled in secondary school. In total, 60 percent of children with disabilities aged 5-17 years are not in education.\ Read more: Learning Disabilities in Children: Types, symptoms, ways to help The survey also found that children with disabilities who do attend formal education lag behind academically by over two years for their age on average. “The data from this national survey – the first of its kind by the BBS – highlights the challenges children with disabilities face growing up. The findings will support the Government to formulate policies and initiatives to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh,” said Iftekhairul Karim, Project Director, BBS. According to the survey, 1.7 percent of children in Bangladesh live with one of the twelve types of disability defined in the Persons with Disability Rights and Protection Act 2013, while 3.6 per cent of children face functional difficulty in at least one of the domains of seeing, hearing, walking, fine motor skills, communication, learning, playing or controlling behaviour. “The new data highlights just how many children with disabilities in Bangladesh are losing out on education. We need to do more for these children. We need to provide the support and services they need, and we need to create an inclusive environment where they can thrive,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. Data from the survey also shed light on the difficulties that children with disabilities face as adults. Read more: Youth with disabilities deprived of learning, employment scopes: Study Only one third of persons with disabilities of working age are employed, with women with disabilities far more likely to be unemployed compared to men. And while 90 percent of persons with disabilities who are registered with the Government receive disability allowances, the vast majority of them – about 65 per cent – remain unregistered. Early identification and management of childhood disabilities are critical to maximizing the potential of children. It is also critical to create an inclusive environment where families and service-providers can support children with disabilities to participate actively in all spheres of life. UNICEF works with the government and partners in Bangladesh to champion the rights of children with disabilities to education, healthcare and future employment, and to remove social stigma and prejudice.
Development of children from Rohingya and host communities is facing several challenges and integrated efforts and mechanism are required to ensure their holistic development, so that they can grow up becoming skilled individuals, said experts during a learning sharing workshop. The workshop was organized recently by the international development organisation Plan International Bangladesh under the “Providing Early Childhood and Basic Education for Rohingya and Host Community Children”, project, with the support of UNICEF. Addressing the event as the Chief Guest, Syed Mamunul Alam, Director General of the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE), said, to ensure repatriation of the Rohingya community, language skill development can be an instrumental mechanism. Read more: Cases filed against 78 people over Rohingya deaths in 'gunfight' Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, Refugee, Relief, and Repatriation Commissioner, RRRC, Cox’s Bazar said, Education plays key role to improve the lives of Rohingya people living in the camps. Bangladesh Government is prioritizing their education through its works and agenda, he said adding developing skilled Rohingya woman as teachers can be a crucial intervention. For the first time ever, with the support of UNICEF, Plan International Bangladesh has implemented integrated Early Childhood Development (i-ECD) centre (Shishu Bikash Kendra) at Rohingya camps and host communities. To ensure joyful environment for children under five years old and to prepare them for the primary schooling, the organization is running 60 i-SBK centres in the camps and host communities (Camp 1 East, Camp 1 West, 3, 6, and 7, and Host community in Rajapalong union).
UNICEF has handed over 110 classrooms across 22 schools in Cox’s Bazar to the government of Bangladesh. Out of the 110 classrooms, 76 are newly constructed while 36 have been renovated, said the UN agency on Sunday. The new and improved classrooms will provide child-friendly learning spaces and better access to education for over 8,000 Bangladeshi children. The initiative is part if UNICEF’s support to Bangladeshi children in the district of Cox’s Bazar, a district which is coping with the challenge of hosting nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. In addition, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Bangladesh to strengthen teaching and learning through grants that benefit all 657 schools in Cox’s Bazar. The “school level improvement plan” grant allows schools to themselves identify and address pressing needs. Read: Supporting Mothers at Work: UNICEF joins hands with Bangladesh garment industry “Children spend a large part of their waking hours in the classroom, and really, the classroom should feel like a second home for children. Research shows that when classrooms are child-friendly and safe, children are motivated to learn, and school enrolment, attendance and completion rates go up,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. Constructed and renovated with support from the Global Partnership for Education, the classrooms have been fully furnished with desks, benches and chairs for children and teachers. UNICEF has also put in place access ramps and child-friendly sanitation facilities for children with disabilities. Prior to the construction works, UNICEF conducted a detailed assessment of needs in 100 schools to identify 22 schools most in need. The 110 classrooms were received by the Directorate of Primary Education under the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. “Congestion was an issue for the children in the eight Upazilas of Cox’s Bazar. These schools have made it possible for us to provide a healthy and inclusive learning environment which is essential for children’s education on the road to recovery from COVID-19,” said Shah Rezwan Hayat, Director General for the Directorate of Primary Education. Read: Girls lag behind boys in mathematics for negative gender norms , stereotypes: UNICEF The burden of congestion in schools is felt throughout Bangladesh. Government statistics show that there are over 1,600 congested public schools in the country. In addition, the average classroom in Bangladesh has more than 40 students, while according to the Government’s primary school quality standards; each classroom should have 40 or fewer students.
Children will be taking over the ATN Bangla news studio to co-host the 7pm evening news today (Sunday) marking the World Children’s Day. Eleven-year-old Anisha Amin will present the news while nine-year-old Rowshan Amin Ruhy will operate a studio camera. This “kids takeover” marks the annual celebration of the 1989 adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more: Heatwaves to impact almost every child by 2050: UNICEF report Ratified by Bangladesh in 1990, the treaty contains a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are individuals with their own rights. The Convention says that childhood is separate from adulthood, and that it lasts until the child turns 18. It is a special and protected time in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. The Convention is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, and it remains a pillar for transforming children’s lives. Across the world today, UNICEF partners with children who take over key positions in media and politics as a voice for children who are unschooled, unprotected and uprooted. “I have always been on the other side watching the news but today the whole country will listen to me. I want all children to be heard, not just on World Children’s Day but every day,” said eleven-year-old Anisha Amin. The themes of this year’s World Children’s Day are inclusion and anti-discrimination. In this spirit, UNICEF brought together Rohingya refugee girls and Bangladeshi girls in friendly football matches in Cox’s Bazar. Read more: UNICEF wants investment in world's first child-focused climate risk financing solution The moment of fun was part of UNICEF’s work to inspire friendships between children who share the experience the Rohingya refugee crisis from different perspectives. The theme of inclusion and the power of sports is at the heart of this unmissable World Children's Day video with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors David Beckham, Sergio Ramos, Robert Lewandowski and the Bangladesh national U-15 girls’ football team. Trending on social media in Bangladesh, the video has already been seen over 10 million times. Compelling videos were also launched by UNICEF Youth Advocates Farzana Faruk Jhumu and Raba Khan addressing climate change and mental health. Joining the global #IFeltIncluded campaign, Bangladeshi children sent their messages to the world that every child has the right to be protected from all forms of discrimination, while child journalists wrote stories about children who are challenging stereotypes in their communities. “Children can and should be powerful change-makers in their families, schools and communities. It is their voices, choices and opportunities that we must invest in,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.