‘Childhood poverty remains a reality in India’

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Despite India developing as a major economy, the country’s children have a bleak future due to malnutrition leading to stunted growth, high school dropout rates and poverty, a report said Wednesday.

‘The Impact of Growth on Childhood Poverty in Andhra Pradesh’ was conducted by NGO-Young Lives from 2002 and has collected data on 2,011 children aged between six to 18 months and 1,008 children aged between 7-and-half to 8-and-half years.

Findings from its third round of data collection were released here Wednesday.

‘We chose Andhra Pradesh because it is a forward looking state and moreover its not about the percentages but the trends that reflect the whole of India,’ Young Lives India director Renu Singh told IANS.

‘The findings reflect the state of childhood poverty across the country,’ she added Singh.

According to the study, despite falling poverty, considerable economic growth and the development of significant policies, two-fifths of the world’s malnourished children live in India.

‘A third of children surveyed are stunted, which has serious long-term implications for health, psychosocial well-being and educational achievement,’ said Singh.

‘The research also shows that despite higher enrolment, drop-out and school quality remain critical issues,’ she added.

On the government highlighting nutrition as a key policy concern in the upcoming Twelfth Five-Year Plan, Singh said that the focus given to poor nutrition is welcome but calls for a multi-sectoral approach.

She further said that by age 15, only 75 percent of children are in school.

‘Improving the impact of education for children, however, requires improving the quality of schools as well as retaining children in school, and ensuring that other pressures – including poverty – do not undermine children’s ability to learn,’ said Singh.