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Governments around the world promise to offer good education, health and measurable socio-economic circumstances to their citizens. They go a long way to meet these laudable goals albeit through diverse programmes and strategies. But the fact of the matter is that, many children and young people continue to be disadvantaged as they miss out on many of these programmes due to factors their governments can hardly comprehend. More often than not, many of these children and young people are imbued with talents and potential, which if nurtured, can improve their well-being  and become assets to the wider society.

A recent past UN report on the follow-up on the outcome of the Millennium Summit made interesting reading. The report presented information on progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals whose promise, it asserted, was not based on pity or charity, but on solidarity, justice and the recognition that we are increasingly dependent on one another for our shared prosperity and security. The report provided a reflection in three interesting areas – education, health and poverty levels.

On Education

Investment in education remains one of the best ways to increase incomes, agricultural productivity, gender equality and health of the populace. Of more than 72 million children of primary school age around the world, about half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, remain out of school. Furthermore, school dropout rates remain high in many countries, implying that achieving 100 per cent primary school completion rates remains a challenge. Similarly children from the poorest 20 per cent of households account for over 40 per cent of all out-of-school children in many developing countries.

On Health

Approximately 250 million malaria episodes occurred in 2008, leading to approximately 850,000 deaths; about 90 per cent of these deaths occurred in Africa, most among children under 5 years of age. However, major progress in increasing key malaria control interventions with a proven impact on the number of cases and deaths has been documented in many countries and areas. Approximately 200 million nets, out of the more than 340 million nets needed to achieve universal coverage (defined here as one net for every two people), were delivered to countries in Africa during the period 2004 to 2009. Use of insecticide-treated nets by children (one of the most vulnerable groups) rose from just 2 per cent in 2000 to 22 per cent in 2008 in a subset of 26 African countries with trend data (covering 71 per cent of the under-5 population in Africa), with 11 of these countries achieving at least a tenfold gain.

On Poverty Levels

The number of people living in extreme poverty have gone up over the last decade by about 36 million. In sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, poverty and hunger remained stubbornly high. The number of “$1 a day poor” went up by 92 million in sub-Saharan Africa and by 8 million in West Asia during the period. The poverty situation is more serious when other dimensions of poverty, such as deprivation, social exclusion and lack of participation, are also considered. Hunger is increasing and remains an important global challenge. Despite earlier progress, the number of hungry has been rising and the proportion of hungry people in the global population has been rising steadily. There are still over a billion hungry people, and more than 2 billion people are deficient in micronutrients; 129 million children were underweight and 195 million under age 5 were stunted.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that seek to build on the MDGs is also another global efforts at consolidating gains on ending poverty and deprivation. Prominent among the new 15-year-2030 SDG agenda are Education and Health. These items  have the potential develop the human capacity to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that children and young people can fulfil their full potential.

The Way Forward

Behind these statistics and strategies lay real people, mostly vulnerable children and young people in real need of support. It is instructive to note that many of the targets in the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals on poverty, education and health were hardly met.

For example, many children have to pay different forms of direct and indirect education fees as well as buy their own exercise and text books in the course of schooling. This is in spite of some governments’ ‘free education’ slogans. Today, many schools have no library or recreational facilities and the use of computers and Internet are a remote reality. Many children have no decent meals on a typical school day, while a great number walk long distances to and from school. In some cases, there are no teachers to teach them for most part of an academic year; while in others, many children continue to miss school due to malaria and similar related illnesses. Some parents often use their children as farm hands as well as doing petty trading to generate incomes. The harsh realities of children and young people’s education are hard to imagine.

While not underestimating the difficult task of nation building, governments’ efforts at meeting the educational, health, and socio-economic needs of their peoples remain inadequate, especially in developing countries.

At Children of Potentials (CoP), we believe that a lot remain to be done in these areas. The good news is that there are equally many individuals and organisations in all societies who are determined to offer their support in this direction. Sometimes, just knowing that there are people who want to help is inspiring. CoP has executed programmes that provide direct support to children, their parents and schools/institutions and therefore stands as a credible facilitator through which such support can be channelled.

We hereby solicit your support, either financial, material or both, to improve the educational, health and living standards of underprivileged children and young people. You can post a goodwill messages and comments using our contact page. You can also donate to our good cause projects or sponsor a child in need of support.

A long-awaited breakthrough in the fight against malaria finally became a reality when on 6th October 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) unveiled and recommended a new vaccine, RTS,S/AS01 that has captured the attention of child-health professionals and parents alike. The new vaccine seems to be the missing part of a jigsaw in the fight against malaria that cause the deaths of over a quarter of a million at-risk children between 0-5 every year, especially in sub-Sahara Africa and elsewhere.

We at Children of Potentials are extremely happy for the turn of event. Over the years, we have held the view and have witnessed the negative impact that malaria has had on the health and education of young children. Malaria diseases have seen school attendance affected for many children in the communities we operate. It is our hope that the development and rollout of the new vaccine - in combination with other similar interventions - will go a long way in achieving our objective of improving educational and health outcomes for children and young people.

We say kudus to all the collaborators involved, especially piloting/research countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, as well as the technical and financial support of others.