Written by Keshala Dias
04 May, 2018 | 7:05 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – UNICEF is hosting parliamentarians from the entire South Asia region in an effort to increase investment in children and young adults, bringing about much needed change for millions of poor and improving the prospects for healthy economic growth in the region.
The South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from May 2 to May 3 which aimed to strengthen opportunities for children in the first two decades of their lives. Lawmakers from all eight countries in South Asia met to prioritize, promote, and safeguard children’s rights and discuss the prospects for further investment in Early Childhood and adolescent years.
“While South Asia is home to one-fourth of the world’s population, its share of global income is just 4%. This fact underlines one of the biggest challenges for South Asia’s progress on the social and economic front; namely the lack of investment in its largest asset, its human capital – and especially the young within the society,” said Jean Gough, Regional Director of UNICEF South Asia.
Three parliamentarians from Sri Lanka participated in this meeting: Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle – Chair of the Parliamentary Caucus for Children, Dr. Thusitha Wijemanne – Chair of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Women and Gender, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe – Member of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Public Finance and Kushani Rohanadeera – Assistant Secretary General of Parliament.
Speaking on the initiative, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said “Children are crucial constituents; the future economic prosperity and development of the country depends on them. In our role as parliamentarians, we need to review legislation and especially the national budget, through a child’s perspective to ensure that investments in the social sectors that impact children are adequate and equitable so that no child, regardless of who they are or where they live, can reach their full potential to become productive citizens of this country.”
This year’s meeting focused on the region’s commitment to increased investment in children. 300 million children in South Asia are so-called multi-dimensionally poor with too little to eat, a high risk of falling sick from preventable disease and a very slim chance of ever going to school.
The UNICEF noted, that investment in the young pays strong dividends to society. One dollar invested in quality early childhood development will give a return of between USD 6 and USD 17. If low and middle-income countries ensured preschool enrollment to half of the country’s children, the result could be cumulative lifetime earnings gains of USD 15to USD 34 billion. The urgent, timely and adequate investments in early childhood and adolescent years will lead to well-developed brains and a highly productive workforce.
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