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Sunday, April 20, 2014  
Education does matter
Global survey says kids value education more, writes Moira E. McLaughlin

ADULTS are often asked what they think of their lawmakers, how they spend their free time and even whether they like cream and sugar in their coffee. But how often are kids asked what they think?

“It’s important to listen and to hear and respond to what the children say,” said Cynthia Price, who works for ChildFund International, an organisation that helps provide health care, education and other basic services for kids in need around the world. ChildFund Alliance, a group of global organisations dedicated to helping kids, recently released its fourth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, a collection of questions and answers. Almost 6,500 kids ages 10 to 12 from 47 countries were interviewed. Each kid was asked six questions, several of which dealt with safety.

“It really allows the child to share his or her . . . hopes, dreams and fears,” Price said. “We recognise that it’s important to give [kids] that opportunity to speak up and to say what they need.”

ChildFund members use the information to help improve the ways they serve kids in 58 countries, Price said.

Here are a few of the interesting results of the survey. In some cases, kids share the same opinions, but in others, kids around the globe have far different concerns. How would you answer the questions?

“What makes you feel safe and happy?” Overall, 56 per cent of kids answered “being with family.” But a majority of kids in such places as Mozambique, a country in southeast Africa, and Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia, said education made them feel safe and happy. In the United States, only 2 per cent of kids answered ‘education’, while 4 per cent of US kids said their dog made them feel safe and happy. In war-torn Afghanistan, 27 per cent of kids answered ‘peace’ and ‘no more war’.

“Which of these are the most important for you and your family? Kids had 16 choices and could pick six. Forty-six per cent of kids said, “Men and women, boys and girls should not be treated differently.” Forty-four per cent said, “Health care should be better.” In Senegal, in West Africa, 65 per cent of kids said electricity was most important to them. (Many areas of that country have no electrical power.) Most kids, however, answered that what was most important for them was that everyone be well educated.

“If you were the leader of your country, what is the ONE thing you would do to protect the children of your country from violence?” Many kids, including those in the United States, said they would insist on more law and order. Twelve per cent of kids worldwide answered that they would improve education.

Washington Post-Bloomberg

“One of the things I’m always amazed by is how much they value education,” Price said. “They recognise education is the way to change their world and make it better.”

“What do you think are the main causes of violence in your country?” Most kids in the United States said ‘drugs’, ‘bad behaviour’ and ‘guns’, while half of the kids in India said ‘poverty’. Fifty-six per cent of kids in Mozambique said ‘lack of education’. In Afghanistan, 77 per cent of kids said “war.”

“Who is your hero?” Most kids chose family members, but 3 per cent of kids in the United States said “athletes.”

“What does peace mean to you?” Thirty-one per cent of kids from the United States said ‘serenity’ and ‘inner peace’, while 45 per cent of kids from Mozambique said ‘no war’. Seven per cent of kids from Paraguay, in South America, said “being able to play and have fun.” Thirty-two per cent of kids from Ethiopia in East Africa and 53 per cent of kids from Laos in Southeast Asia answered ‘love’.

Washington Post-Bloomberg
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