Today is Children’s Day in Armenia. State officials send congratulatory messages which, however, bypass the public policy issues and the real situation related to the protection of children’s rights.
Every third child in Armenia is poor, and every second is vulnerable from the viewpoint of multidimensional poverty. This statistics is shown in the “Child Poverty in Armenia” joint report by UNICEF and RA National Statistical Service. Moreover, in case of children, being poor not only means being in need of financial means but also being deprived in crucial aspects of their lives, such as nutrition, education, leisure or housing. The situation is even worse for children in rural areas, where their vulnerability reaches 82%.
About one third of children age 0-5 are vulnerable in terms of nutrition, and that affects their growth. According to RA Ministry of Health, 19% of children younger than 5 are stunted or regularly undernourished, and 10% are extremely undernourished.
Though the right to education is fixed by RA legislation, every year fewer children receive primary or secondary education. According to RA National Statistical Service, 8.4% of elementary school-age children did not attend school during the academic year 2015-2016. That number formed only 1% during the academic year 2011-2012. However, elementary school attendance does not guarantee access to education as thousands of children remain out of school because of poverty. According to the official data by the NSS, more than 22.3 thousand students left schools and did not continue education anywhere during the period 2007-2012.
The majority has been forced to leave school because of not having proper clothing and school supplies, and some have had to make all kinds of work to earn their living. According to “World Vision Armenia”, the number of children involved in some kind of work reaches 1100 in Armenia.
Though Armenia has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, only 1/3 of its commitments undertaken within the framework of the convention are fulfilled. According to “Child Protection Index – 2016”, Armenia has fulfilled its commitments regarding amendments in laws and legal acts but it has failed in implementation of commitments fixed by national legislation.
The Child Protection Index has been carried out in 9 countries (Armenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Georgia), among which Armenia held the last positions in regard to several indicators. In child’s economic exploitation and vulnerability index, Armenia ranks last (9). And in terms of protecting the child from abduction, sale, trafficking, or sexual exploitation, Armenia ranks 8th (the penultimate position).