Singapore the top country for children to grow up in: NGO report

Kindergarten children at a playground in Yishun. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — Singapore has been ranked the best country in the world for a child to grow up healthy, educated and protected, with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

For the second year in a row, the annual Global Childhood Report, compiled by non-governmental organisation Save The Children, placed the nation at the top of a list of more than 170 countries.

Its latest End of Childhood index compares the latest data from 176 countries – more than any year before – and assesses where the most and fewest children are missing out on vital aspects of childhood.

Singapore ranked ahead of second-placed Sweden with a score of 989, while the likes of Finland, Germany and South Korea made it into the top 10. These countries scored well for children’s health, education and protection status.

The results are calculated on a scale of 1 to 1,000 and measure the extent to which children in each country experience “childhood enders” such as death, severe malnutrition, being out of school and shouldering the burdens of adult roles in work, marriage and motherhood.

“The United States, China and Russia may be the three most powerful countries in the world – in terms of their economic, military and technological strength and global influence – but all three badly trail most of Western Europe in helping children reach their full potential,” noted the report.

China and the US are tied for 36th place, while Russia ranks 38th with scores of 941, 941 and 940, respectively – at least 30 points behind most Western European countries.

The report added, “China has made the most progress of the three in recent decades, steadily improving conditions for its children, while Russia and the US have made less progress.”

The other end of the scale

Singapore is ranked top of a list of 176 countries as the best place for a child to grow up. INFOGRAPHIC: Save the Children

Central African Republic ranks last among the countries surveyed, with a score of 394. The 10 bottom-ranked countries, of which eight are from West and Central Africa, perform poorly on most indicators.

“Children in these countries are the least likely to fully experience childhood, a time that should be dedicated to emotional, social and physical development, as well as play,” said the report.

Low index rankings also highlight the challenges of armed conflict and poverty in these nations. Nine of the bottom 10 countries are low-income and six of the bottom 10 are fragile and conflict-affected states.

“In these and many other countries around the world, children are robbed of significant portions of their childhoods,” the report added.

Nevertheless, the report was upbeat about the general prospects of children around the world. “Children born today have a better chance than at any time in history to grow up healthy, educated and protected, with the opportunity to reach their full potential,” it said.

“Even a generation ago, a child was twice as likely to die before reaching age five, 70 per cent more likely to be involved in child labour and 20 per cent more likely to be murdered.”

In the year 2000, an estimated 970 million children were robbed of their childhoods due to these causes. This has been reduced to 690 million, meaning at least 280 million children are better off today than they would have been two decades ago.

“Tremendous progress for children is taking place in some of the poorest countries in the world, providing ever-increasing evidence that development work is paying huge dividends in countries where needs are greatest,” said the report.

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