Population council predicts better education, health services as birth rate drops

The percentage of children under 15 years old is expected to decline from 33.1 percent in 2020 to 23.8 percent by 2040, according to recent projections. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The percentage of children under 15 years old will drop from 33.1 percent in 2020 to 23.8 percent in 2040 according to recent population projections, alleviating expenses on education, health, and other services for Jordanian families and the state budget, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

In this scenario, the decline in dependency rates in Jordanian families will be cost-effective, making room for investment in better quality services for children, Secretary-General of the Higher Population Council (HPC) Abla Amawi said on Saturday.

According to a statement on the occasion World Children's Day, under the slogan "A better future for every child", Amawi pointed out that the proportion of children under the age of 18 in Jordan amounted to 40.2 percent of the total population in 2020, while population projections showed that the percentage of children under 15 will decrease as a result of an expected decrease in birth rate.

Jordan, she added, has made great strides in promoting children's rights and child development, which is evident by indicators such as an increased enrollment rate in various stages of education, reaching 41.1 percent for kindergarten enrollment, 97.9 percent for the elementary stage, and 77.5 percent for secondary education in the academic year 2019/2020.

On gender equality in education, Jordan has also maintained a small gap between boys and girls in primary school, while the percentage of boys enrolled in high school is less than girls.

Despite that, there are some challenges in the education field, Amawi indicated. A joint Ministry of Education and UNICEF study titled "Jordan Country Report on Out-of-School Children" revealed that 112,016 children in the 6–15 age group in the academic year 2017/2018 were out of school. Out-of-school girls in the 6–11 group constituted 2.3 percent, while 1.6 percent of their male counterparts in the same age group were not enrolled in school.

According to Amawi, the effects of the cumulative numbers of dropouts are reflected in the educational level of the workers in the Jordanian economy. Fifty percent of the workers do not hold a secondary education certificate, figures showed. Other challenges include child labor, child marriage, juvenile delinquency, and the persistence of the cycle of poverty, she added.

On the health front, Jordan has come a long way, Amawi underlined, noting that population and family health surveys pointed to a decrease in the mortality rate for children under five and a decrease in the infant mortality rate. Furthermore, the percentage of children aged 12–23 months old who have received all their basic vaccinations has spiked.

Major health challenges include the prevalence of anemia among Jordanian children, where 1 in 3 children between six months old and 6 years old suffers from the condition. Moreover, feeding practices for only 23 percent of children in Jordan aged 6–23 months meet the minimum standards, she added.

On the 2021 Kids Rights Index, Jordan ranked 73rd out of 182 countries around the world. The index, issued by the KidsRights foundation, offers an overview of each country’s performance in the field of children's rights.
As for the effects on the COVID-19 pandemic on children, she said that despite the low rate of infection among children under 18 in Jordan, which amounted to 17.7 percent (until November 16), the indirect effects were significant on the children.

According to a UNICEF study entitled "Social and Economic Challenges Facing the Most Vulnerable Children, Youth and their Parents in Jordan During the COVID-19 Pandemic", 23 percent of sick children during the pandemic did not receive the necessary medical care, 25 percent of families' children were unable to access national online education platforms, and only 31 percent of families were able to get internet at home.

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