What children want is an education
Global children's survey finds what children want is an education
Universal Children's Day: 20 November 2010
Auckland, NZ, 18 November 2010:
Give them a dollar or make them president and what would they do? Most children across the world say their first order of business would be to improve education by building schools, providing school supplies and increasing access to education for all children. Their next priority would be providing food and water. Almost half said they would spend their dollar on food or water, ahead of clothes, toys and sports.
These findings are taken from the ChildFund Alliance global children's survey, Small Voices, Big Dreams*, released this week in recognition of Universal Children's Day (20 November). The survey polled 3,000 children aged 10 to 12 from 30 developing countries across the world - from Afghanistan to Zambia - as well as 300 children from New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
The survey is the first of its kind for the ChildFund Alliance whose roots date back more than 70 years. ChildFund New Zealand was a key driver of the ambitious survey.
"The survey aimed to find out what is important to children and to help paint a picture of what life is like for children in developing countries, compared with children in developed countries such as New Zealand," says ChildFund New Zealand CEO Paul Brown.
"The survey was undertaken as part of ChildFund's ongoing work to listen to children and understand their perspectives, so that we continue to run programmes that are relevant and effective for children."
The survey found education, food and water to be the top priorities for children. Globally, more than half (57%) of the children surveyed said if they were the president of their country, the one thing they would do for children is improve education. They had a range of ideas for how this could be done, from improving existing schools to building new ones, providing school fees or making education free, providing school supplies and textbooks, and increasing access to education for all children. Providing food and water was the next most common response (19%).
By contrast only 25% of New Zealand children would put an emphasis on education if President, with over a third thinking the provision of food for children was more important. This does not mean New Zealand children go to bed hungry at night, with 93% saying this was "never" a problem. More than a third of children in the developing world go to bed hungry at least once a week.
As President, one in eight New Zealand children would help make other children more safe and secure, with prevalence among this 12% focused on eliminating and/or protecting children from violence, compared with those in developing countries where only 4% listed issues of safety and security as a general concern.
When asked what they need most in their daily life, food/water and education were the top two responses. A third (33%) of children in developing countries said the one thing they need most is food and water, while another third (34%) said education. Over half New Zealand children said they needed food the most daily, but over a quarter said family and friends were the thing they couldn't get by without on a day to day basis.
Children across both developing and developed nations do share some common fears, with 30% saying they were most afraid of animals. Snakes (15%) topped the list, followed by death/accidents/disease (20%) and war/terror/violence (15%). Marked differences are found in specific countries - for example, the number of children afraid of war, terror and violence is significantly higher in Afghanistan, where 61% of surveyed children reported this fear.
Children in developing countries work hard, spending long hours on daily chores. For 43%, up to half a day can be spent on chores, with a further 22% doing more than this each day. For New Zealand children, 66% spend less than an hour doing jobs, with none reporting they do more than half a day's work.
"We can be thankful for many things in New Zealand, and while our children here do have some very valid concerns, it is reassuring to see they are on the whole, very conscious of the plight of children in some of the world's poorest countries - even at the age of 10 years old," says Paul Brown.
"Childhoods are so different in different countries, yet there are threads of commonality that run through them. Children everywhere place importance on education, food, water, clothes, toys and sport. At the same time, there are clear differences in the opportunities, resources and support available to children.
"This far-reaching survey amplifies what we hear in the thousands of villages where ChildFund works: children in poor communities are acutely aware of the daily struggle of their families to provide, and know that their future is intimately linked to getting a good education. Addressing these issues is vital to achieve genuine improvements in children's lives."