International Children’s Day 2015 marks the 90th global celebration of the rights and well-being of children around the world. It is a day dedicated to not only celebrating, but also appreciating, the role children play in the future of all communities around the world.
Celebrating children, while internationally recognized almost a century ago, is something we continue to struggle with on a universal level. While globally we proclaim dedication to Education for All and the Universal Rights of the Child, many countries, as is the case in Cambodia, continue to fail the next generation of leaders in the basic rights of a quality education that will provide them with the necessary skills and opportunities for a more prosperous future than their reality today. The responsibility for providing children with the ability to capitalize on the possibilities of the future lie in the hands of those of us capable of making significant changes in the opportunities for growth and exposure to new and innovative ways of thinking.
The opportunity to educate a child begins at birth. From the time children enter this world, they listen, they watch, they explore the world around them. Their world starts small, with only the ability to recognize their mother’s face or the smell of the people that take care of them. That world grows quickly, and within a few short years children are able to broaden their educational possibilities to include an understanding of the families and communities that construct their very sense of life on earth. Setting a strong foundation for a lifelong love of learning is critical in the early years to ensure future success.
Since independence, the people of Georgia have endured periods of civil war and unrest as well as violence related to the independence aspirations of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Although diplomatic efforts have brought relative stability in recent years, tensions over both regions persist.
Child nutrition remains a concern with almost half of the children screened in endemic areas found to have iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), as does quality education, particularly in rural areas.
Over 32,000 families in Tbilisi live on the edge of poverty, with nearly one in six children growing up in poverty. There are many factors for this situation. To begin with, an estimated 96,700 residents of the city are classed as ‘internally displaced’ due to the recent civil war in the province of Abkhazia and other conflicts.
Many of these families have arrived with just the shirts on their backs and are unemployed. Other children live in poverty due to their or their parents’ disability, and those from dysfunctional families with for example, substance misuse problems.
Children’s Day is recognized on various days in many places around the world, to honor children globally. It was first proclaimed by the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in 1925 and then established universally in 1954 to protect an “appropriate” day. International Day for Protection of Children, is observed in many countries as Children’s Day on June 1 since 1950.