©UNICEF IRC / 2010 - Report Card 9 - The Children Left Behind

Innocenti bulletin 13 / 2010

These days, each day, almost every hour, markets are measuring the size of government deficits and assessing their abilities to pay back debt. Where a gap is seen or perceived, whole societies have been forced to ply to their will as to what is needed in austerity measures. As debates over such measures rage, it is worth pausing to consider another measure, which while not producing headlines with the same frequency as our beleaguered financial system, is no less important to the affairs of the world's rich countries.

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2005-1162/LeMoyne - Yaprak, 10, stands with her younger sister and brother and her mother on the porch of their home in the village of Karaali in Ankara Province. Yaprak attends a 'child-friendly' school, together with all the girls in the village. Today is the last day of school and she is wearing a red velvet dress to celebrate. Yaprak's father works for a local landowner in exchange for the house and a small stipend.

Innocenti bulletin 13 / 2010

Some children will always fall below the average, whether in health, wealth, or education. And some will always be in the bottom 10%.

So much is obvious. But here’s a trickier question. How far behind is too far? Is there a point beyond which falling behind is not unavoidable but unacceptable, not inequality but inequity?

A report issued this month by UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre in Florence tries to answer this question. It shows that some countries are allowing children to fall much further behind than others. And it argues that the consequences are enormous for the economy and for society as well as for the children themselves.

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