On 26 July 2014, in his statement, MP of the Parliamentary Majority, Gubaz Sanikidze, talked about the child mortality rates and education levels in the country. According to him, these are the two criteria which are used for the assessment of the development of particular countries and governments. Mr Sanikidze stated: “Georgia has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world and one of the lowest education levels.” He also addressed the United National Movement and said that this was the result of their nine-year rule. He added that he does not like to evaluate his country based upon numbers but since his opponents like numbers, he looked into the facts as well. Mr Sanikidze said that the country was at the brink of a demographic catastrophe and that the education level of young people was very low which was also catastrophic.

FactCheck

took interest in child mortality rates and the education level of the country and verified the accuracy of the MP’s statement.

Child Mortality Rates In order to look into the child mortality rates in Georgia we contacted the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and asked for information. They told us that they do not conduct studies about child mortality rates. Such studies are carried out by the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) and UNICEF uses their data in its research. One of the latest reports published by the IGME in 2013 (Levels & Trends In Child Mortality)

concerns the 2012 mortality levels of children under five years of age around the world. The study was conducted with the support of UNICEF, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the United Nations.

The Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation was created in 2004 and its main goal is to reduce child mortality and share data about this problem. The report highlighted that there has been significant progress in lowering the under-five mortality rates. For example, while the annual child mortality was 12 million in 1990, it has been reduced to 7 million as of 2012. In spite of such progress, the 2012 under-five child mortality statistics around the world are as follows: 12 children die each minute, 18,000 each day, 125,000 each week, 546,000 each month and 6,600,000 children each year. It should also be noted that according to 2012 data, the average under-five child mortality rate in low income countries is 82 out of 1,000 children and is 13 times more than in high income countries which is six children out of 1,000.

The biggest cause of the death of children under the age of five is pneumonia (17%). Other reasons are early childbirth problems (15%), intranatal complications (labour, delivery and cutting the umbilical cord) causing 10% of deaths and diarrhoea (7%). The cause of the remaining 45% of deaths is malnutrition.

The IGME report of 2013 includes the data from 195 countries and populated regions of the world. The report also gives a progress report for each country based upon the 1990 data and shows what a particular country should do in order to reduce child mortality by 2015.

According to the report, Iceland and Luxembourg have the lowest under-five child mortality rates with only two deaths out of 1,000 children. Sierra Leone, on the other hand, has the highest child mortality rates with 182 deaths out of 1,000. It is followed by Angola with 164 deaths, Chad (150), Somalia (147), Democratic Republic of Congo (146), Central African Republic (129) and so on.

As for Georgia, it shares the 63rd

place with Algeria with 20 deaths out of 1,000. According to the report, in 1990, the under-five child death rate in Georgia was 35 out of 1,000. From 1990 to 2000 this number reduced only by one. According to the 2012 data, the under-five death rate was reduced to 20 children out of 1,000. To live up to the Millennium Development Goals, Georgia must reduce the number to 12 by 2015.

Education As for the level of education in the country, FactCheck also wrote about this in April 2014. The latest study about the level of education of children under the age of 15 was conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This was the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

which assessed student abilities in natural sciences, mathematics and critical reading. Students from 74 countries participated in the study. According to the results, Georgia was indeed one of the last. In Europe, Georgia placed last in critical reading, gathered 12 points more than Azerbaijan in mathematics and just 2 points more than Albania in natural sciences. Overall, Georgia had the worst results in Europe.

Conclusion The study revealed that with 20 deaths out of 1,000 Georgia shares the 63rd

place with Algeria in the 2012 under-five child mortality world rating. These numbers are definitely not good but they are nowhere near to what Mr Sanikidze said about Georgia having one of the highest child mortality rates in the world. The pathos of the statement should also be noted. Mr Sanikidze blamed the United National Movement and their nine-year rule for the high rates. According to the statistics, the under-five child mortality rate was 35 out of 1,000 in 1990, 34 out of 1,000 in 2000 and 20 out of 1,000 in 2012. We do not think that the reduction in child mortality rates has anything to do with any particular politician or political party but it did take place in the period referred to by Gubaz Sanikidze.

As for the second part of the statement, it is absolutely true. Of 74 countries of the world, Georgia is one of the last with the education level of children under the age of 15 and is definitely the last in Europe.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that the Georgian Dream coalition MP, Gubaz Sanikidze’s statement: “Georgia has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world and one of the lowest education levels,” is HALF TRUE.

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