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Making the greatest gains among the South Asian countries, Bangladesh ranked as 130th best country in the world for children to grow up, said a report, reports UNB.

Ahead of the International Children’s Day on June 1, Save the Children revealed the information while launching its End of Childhood report at National Press Club.

Last year Bangladesh’s position was 134th. This year the country scored 701 out of possible 1000 points, representing a 21 point improvement, primarily due to one factor which is the increasing number of school going children, said Kamal Hossain, Director of Hope project in his keynote presentation.

He said, in just 12 months, Bangladesh’s out-of-school children’s rate has been reduced by 27 percent, according to UNESCO data.

Still, more than 4 million children of 6 to 10 years old age group are out of school in Bangladesh while 80 percent of children with disabilities in Bangladesh do not go to school, he added.

“Current budgetary allocations for programmes supporting children with disabilities to learn and get an education are miniscule compared to what is actually needed”, said the project director.

In South Asia, 4 of 8 countries improved their scores. India’s reduced rate of child marriage helped increase its score 14 points from 754 to 768. Afghanistan’s score fell 10 points from 602 to 592 because of conflict-related displacement and children out of school.

Reefat Bin Sattar, Director of Save the Children’s Program Development and Quality, said, the education boom is not being enjoyed by all children, such as those living in extreme poverty in isolated parts of the country are facing social exclusion.

According to the report, the progress in other childhood ‘enders’ was slower as more than a third of Bangladeshi under-5 year old children still suffer from stunting, 44 percent of teenagers are married before they turn 20 and nearly 3.5 percent of children in Bangladesh do not survive to their fifth birthday.

Save the Children came up with some recommendations, such as – strengthening the capacity of primary school teachers through adaptation of inclusive pedagogy in the teacher training manuals as well as classroom facilitation, strengthening coordination among different ministries and departments to make joint planning and implementation of project for children with disability, allocating more budget for children with disabilities at national and local level and ensuring available and segregated data of children with disabilities to help for planning and implementing projects for their wellbeing.

The report said, more than 1.2 billion children over the world, which is half of the total children population, are at risk for an early end to their childhood while 1.53 million children are at extreme risk.

One billion children live in countries plagued by poverty, at least 240 million children live in countries affected by conflict and fragility and 575 million girls live in countries characterized by discrimination against girls.

Compared to last year, the End of Childhood Index finds the overall situation for children appears more favorable in 95 countries and conditions appear worse in 58 countries.

The top three countries in the index are Singapore, Slovenia and Norway while the three lowest ranking countries are Niger, Mali and Central African Republic.

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