Education and inclusion for every child on World Children’s Day
November 20 is World Children’s Day, designated by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in 1954 to celebrate and honor the welfare of children around the world. It also marks the date the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, (CRC) in 1989.
While the United States has never signed on, the CRC is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history and has continued to be fundamental for fighting for child wellness globally. It has inspired leaders to change laws and invest in providing the essential health care, nutrition, and education children need to survive and thrive. It is a treaty that also protects children from violence and exploitation. Finally, it advocates for giving children a voice in the policies and decisions that impact their lives.
Are Children a Policy Priority?
Children are the future of our communities, countries, and world, yet we have failed to adequately invest in their futures. In the U.S. and around the world, children are being denied their rights that should be guaranteed under international treaties.
According to the recently published Children’s Budget by First Focus:
- In 2020, more than 1.2 million U.S. students were experiencing homelessness.
- At the end of September 2022, nearly 5 million children lived in a household that couldn’t afford to give them enough food.
- Since the improved CTC expired in January 2022, we have seen child poverty spike – plunging nearly 4 million children back into poverty that month, including over 1.3 million Hispanic children and over 660,000 Black children.
Internationally, children and young people receive only a minimal share of the U.S. government’s foreign assistance budget. The latest report showed that only $.085 of every $1 of foreign assistance investments benefitted children. In 2020 alone, 5 million children died before their fifth birthday. Most of these deaths were preventable, and nearly half had malnutrition as an underlying cause. Now, COVID-19, conflict, and climate change are exacerbating the problem of child malnutrition. UNICEF recently sounded the alarm that in the places hit hardest by the global hunger crisis, one child is pushed into severe malnutrition every minute.
Are Children Really Learning?
In the U.S., the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card, show that the average math test scores for fourth-graders fell five points since 2019. This decline was even more pronounced for eighth-graders. In reading, scores for both grades also declined. These declines in math scores were the largest ever recorded in that subject. According to NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr, “The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics.”
In many countries outside of the US, learning loss is even more pronounced. For example, as a result of the pandemic, learning poverty—a measure of children unable to read and understand a simple passage by age 10—has increased to 70 percent in low-income countries (World Bank). Last year, the UN estimated that over 11 million girls are now at risk for never returning to school after the closures due to the pandemic. More must be done to get kids back in school and to support quality education programs that prioritize foundational literacy and numeracy.
Take Action for Children
In the spirit of the CRC and World Children’s Day, we must take action! We’re encouraging you to reach out to your communities and members of Congress, urging them to pass policies that support children around the world, including:
- Access to Nutrition
- Access to Early Education and Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
- Access to Inclusive Schooling
- Safety from Violence
- Protection from Harmful Discrimination and Exploitation
In honor of World Children’s Day, we encourage you to take a stand for children by taking action:
- Support the Child Tax Credit to lift children out of poverty in the United States by urging Congress to expand the CTC this year.
- Ask your Senator to support the READ ACT Reauthorization to ensure that children have access to foundational literacy and numeracy in low-income countries that have been hit the hardest by COVID-learning loss. Reauthorizing the READ Act will make U.S. foreign aid more effective and maintain our government’s commitment to global education. The bill has already passed the House and has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate. We need you to urge your members of Congress to join as cosponsors. You can track the progress of the Read Act and check if your members of Congress are signed on check if your members of Congress are supporters. Their support will show Congressional leadership that this is a critically important bill that will affect millions of children around the world.
- Raise your voice with RESULTS to advocate for increased funding to help access to essential nutrition, vaccination, and health care service globally.
- Join the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Day of Action Campaign.
- Explore resources for parents and teachers on child rights, and read the child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Follow Voices of Youth on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, explore the #WorldChildrensDay hashtag, and share with your followers to keep the conversation going!