Children: A Good Investment

Excerpt of an article by Matthew DeLuca, originally posted on The Daily Beast. Read the entire article, here.

Children pose for the cameras at the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls in Lilongwe, Malawi, April 6, 2010. (Michelly Rall / Getty Images)

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are a sprint toward the future, said public- and private-sector leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative on Monday, and malnutrition and lack of access to an education are the most common stumbling blocks.

President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi joined Discovery Education CEO Bill Goodwyn, Save the Children chief Carolyn S. Miles, and Jay Naidoo, chairman of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, in a plenary session panel moderated by Unicef Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta.

We don’t want children just to survive, we want them to thrive,” said Gupta in introducing the panel, which was titled “The Early Years: An Irresistible Investment Opportunity.” Chronic malnutrition within the first three years of a child’s development can take years of mental development off children’s lives that, coupled with physical stunting, can lead to irreparable damage to a country’s economic potential, she said.

There are ways to combat these twin evils, however, the panelists said, and Naidoo added that the costs involved are almost never prohibitive. “If you want to make an investment that impacts development most, you invest in your children,” Naidoo said.

“There is really an economic argument,” Miles said, citing statistics that show that proper nutrition in the early stages of a child’s development can have the long-term effect of adding 2 to 3 percentage points to a country’s gross domestic product.

Keeping children healthy is just the first part of the equation, however, according to Miles. Then you have to get them into classrooms. “It is really about survival, then it is about kids learning,” she said.

Article continued, here.

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