Child Well-Being Index to Expand and Protect Children’s Rights More Effectively in Kazakhstan

NUR-SULTAN – The Child Well-Being Index will help Kazakhstan’s decision-makers to increase the effectiveness of national policies in the protection of children’s rights, experts from the Economic Research Institute told The Astana Times. 

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The index is developed by the Economic Research Institute with the support of Kazakhstan’s Committee on the Protection of Children’s Rights, and the UNICEF Office in Kazakhstan. 

At the fourth meeting of the National Council of Public Trust in October 2020, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed his government to develop and implement the Child Well-Being Index, a national monitoring mechanism starting from 2022. 

“The Child Well-Being Index in Kazakhstan is required for a systematic understanding of the effectiveness of national policies to protect children’s rights, which is relevant given the new reality caused by the coronavirus pandemic around the world,” said the institute. 

To conduct the analysis, experts studied more than ten common and globally used child well-being indexes as well as domestic research in the field of child well-being.

The draft methodology for calculating the index has been completed, and the UNICEF Office in Kazakhstan provides technical support in the development of the index. 

The index will have four areas of focus – child, home and family, society and the environment, and the state. 

In each area, experts selected the most relevant and important indicators for the country, a total of 56 indicators, including the children’s access to decent living conditions, education, health care, infrastructure, protection from violence, and opportunities for socialization.

The Child dimension consists of psychological well-being, physical health, and skills, assesses a child’s physical and psychological health and personal skills. 

The Family and Community dimension assesses a child’s interaction with family, friends, school, employer attitudes toward employees with children, among others. It consists of four components – family, household resources, employment, and socialization.

Public policy dimensions evaluate national policies in terms of providing the conditions for obtaining education, health care, as well as the development of family policy.

The situation in the country category, in turn, covers the general economic, environmental infrastructure, and safety of children’s living environment, comprising four components – economy, ecology, infrastructure, and safety.

To develop the methodology and ensure broad public involvement, the institute and the committee conducted two rounds of online and offline discussions with the participation of more than 1,000 experts, NGOs, parents, teachers, and government agencies. 

“During the discussion, there was some constructive criticism of some indicators, the name of the index, and the methodology of calculation. For example, initially, the index was supposed to be named the ‘Kazakhstan Child Happiness Index’ so that the index is always associated with children. However, many experts and parents felt that happiness was an ephemeral concept and impossible to measure, so they decided to call it the Child Well-Being Index,” said the institute. 

The methodology was again revised after receiving more than 120 proposals from experts and the public and the results of online voting, where more than 18,000 people left their suggestions regarding the proposed indicators.

In September, the committee and the institute tested survey indicators of the draft Child Wellbeing Index Methodology in ten regions of the country. 

“UNICEF Innocenti research organization helped us a lot with obtaining ethical approval of the methodology of the sociological study of the index by the Health MediaLab Institutional Review Board (a Washington-based organization providing ethical reviews),” said the institute. 

Overall, the institute experts said that the introduction of the child well-being index in Kazakhstan is expected to ensure a better response to child well-being-related issues and will help shape the country’s initiatives. 

“This, in turn, will have a positive impact on the effectiveness of measures taken by state authorities,” they said. 

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