Wednesday, August 20, 2008

UNESCO's Programs for Children in Need

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UNESCO created the Program for the Education of Children in Need in 1992 to offer a future to vulnerable children through education. Since its creation, over US$33 million has been raised in private funds and these have been fully and directly invested into immediate support for over 332 projects in 92 countries worldwide.
Street children
According to UN sources there are up to 150 million street children in the world today. Chased from home by violence, drug and alcohol abuse, the death of a parent, family breakdown, war, natural disaster or simply socio-economic collapse, many destitute children are forced to eke out a living on the streets, scavenging, begging, hawking in the slums and polluted cities of the developing world.
Children victims of war and natural disasters
Over the last decade alone, armed conflict has claimed the lives of over 2 million children. Another six million have been left wounded or disabled for life. One million have become orphans. It is estimated today that more than 300,000 children have been enrolled in militia groups and armies and been forced to carry a gun. Half of those they kill are other children. Whether it is in Afghanistan, Iraq or in conflict-ridden areas of Africa, UNESCO has played a vital role in providing education and relief. The first to suffer from a lack of sanitation, infrastructure and order after a catastrophe are the most vulnerable: children. Outbreaks of disease following natural disasters hit children the hardest. UNESCO’s Program for the Education of Children in Need seeks to be on hand to offer relief and reconstruction expertise.
Children with special needs
Despite governments signing up to many a convention and seemingly supporting international guidelines on children with special needs, prejudices and exclusion still form part of everyday life for many children with special needs around the world. Since 1992, ther projects for children with special needs have been carried out in the following countries: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cuba, Egypt, India, PDR Lao, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Uganda, Vietnam.
Working children
Child labor is probably the single biggest obstacle to giving every child an education. The International Labor Office estimates the number of working children, aged 5 to 17, to be around 250 million. Many of these children come from impoverished rural families who have to employ every member to survive; others still work in dire situations of systematic exploitation in sweatshops and factories. Exposed to hazardous materials, working in servitude, many of these young laborers die an early death. The most destructive of child ‘work’ is prostitution. Around 2 million children fall within this area of employment worldwide. In Asia alone, perhaps more than 1 million minors, of both sexes, work in bars and brothels. Before long they are caught up in the deadly cycle of substance abuse and HIV infection.
For an overview of current UNESCO projects for children in need, select a region from the list below:

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