If you look at a world map
that shows the Human Development Index you will find sub Saharan Africa and
South Asia as having the lowest figures.
HDI is a combined measurement of life expectancy, education and income
per person. In 2015, the UKS HDI in was
0.909 – 1 is the best score, in Yemen,
it was 0.482 and Bangladesh it was 0.579. Let’s take a closer look at these
Geographers would say that
south Asia is at stage three of the demographic transition model. A typical population pyramid for this area
would show a low death rate and a falling birth rate. In the 1990s, these countries would have been
where sub Saharan Africa is now, with a high birth rate and a falling death
rate; the base of the pyramid would be wide and the sides sloping at about 45
degrees. The death rate has fallen due
to improvements in medical care, food supply and cleaner water and the birth
rate is falling due to the availability and acceptability of contraception, the
improved status of women and the
realisation that as children are surviving childhood, there is no need to have
such large families. As a result of this, in both of these regions, the
population is growing and there are large numbers of children. We would call the children ‘dependents’ as
they do not work and depend on their families to provide for them.
Herein lies a problem – these
countries are poor and in many cases the families can not provide for their
children. In fact the reverse is true,
children are needed to provide for their families. This leads to child labour. Rather than go to school, children are sent
out to work. The jobs they do are low
paid and the conditions in which they work are often unsafe – children work as
street vendors, shoe shiners and as cleaners.
Estimates are that, each day,
around the world 70 million do not go to school and the majority of
these are in north Africa. More girls
than boys are out of school. This is
because girls are given jobs looking after babies and when a girl marries, her
dowry does not depend on her education.
Faced with the financial choice
of just educating one children, families will usually send their son to school. Despite it being a Millennium development
Goal, large numbers of children fail to complete primary school – UNESCO estimates the figure to be 20% – and
this affects the future economic development of a country.