The high primary school enrolment rates in Latin America and the Caribbean mask poor performance in terms of the quality, relevance and cost-effectiveness of formal schooling in the region. What happens to the millions of children who repeat school years, underperform in their first years of schooling and eventually drop out? The vast majority are working children of one sort or another, but their work is likely to lead nowhere in terms of expanded opportunities or eventually to a decent standard of living for them and their future families.
After the collapse of the communist system in 1989, most Eastern European countries experienced a mortality and health crisis. However, this did not hit the traditionally most vulnerable groups - children, adolescents, women and the elderly - but male adults in the 20-59 age group.
Following the Second World War and particularly after the 1960s, many Western European countries experienced positive immigration. Migrations to each specific country differed in origin and were influenced by the historical ties between the sending and receiving countries, particularly in the case of migrations from ex-colonies. However, international economic conditions and political situations also caused similar migration trends across countries, in particular the "contract work" migrations of the 1960s and the new waves of immigrants from developing countries of the 1970s and 1980s.
A nation is democratic to the extent that its citizens are involved, particularly at the community level. The confidence and competence to be involved must be gradually acquired through practice. It is for this reason that there should be gradually increasing opportunities for children to participate in any aspiring democracy, and particularly in those nations already convinced that they are democratic. With the growth of children’s rights we are beginning to see an increasing recognition of children’s abilities to speak for themselves. Regrettably, while children’s and youths’ participation does occur in different degrees around the world, it is often exploitative or frivolous.